Four civilians dead in air raids on Syria's rebel Douma: monitor

The pro-rebel watchdog group said intense battles are raging between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces, with heavy shelling from the Syrian forces and the Russians on Douma.

Eight civilians were killed in shelling early Saturday, while three people needed amputations.

The Observatory said there were dozens of air strikes, including some suspected to have been carried out by Russian warplanes.

"I spoke to one of the doctors inside the town, who told me. they received a number of wounded with symptoms from chlorine gas", said SAMS advocacy director Mohammad Katoub, who is based in Turkey. "Forces are already amassing there and there is massive pressure on Jaish al-Islam", said Nawar Oliver, an analyst at the Omran Institute.

"At least 40 civilians including 8 children have been killed in air strikes and rocket fire on Douma", it said.

"The bombing still hasnt stopped".

Firas al-Doumi, a rescue worker inside the battered town, told AFP military planes and helicopters were circling overhead.

Syrian state media said six civilians were killed when Jaish al-Islam fighters fired shells into Damascus.

With Moscow's help, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ousted his armed opponents from almost all of Eastern Ghouta, their former stronghold on the edge of the capital.

The air and ground offensive on Eastern Ghouta has killed more than 1,600 civilians and caused an global outcry. A ground assault then sliced the area into three isolated pockets, each held by different rebel factions.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces began an offensive against rebel groups in eastern Ghouta, where Douma is located, in February.

Douma is the last town held by rebels in the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.

Regime forces have captured almost all of Ghouta with a combination of ferocious bombing raids, which started on February 18, and negotiated withdrawals.

Tens of thousands also fled into government-controlled territory through safe passages opened by Russian Federation and Syrian troops.

All that remains is Douma, the largest town, held by the Jaish Al Islam faction, home to tens of thousands. Another said she had been riding in a taxi when the shelling started, and the vehicle crashed head-on into a wall.

Syrian state TV said Jaish al-Islam has abducted soldiers and civilians.

Russia's military said the Army of Islam has forced out leaders who were taking part in negotiations to withdraw from Douma and that their fighters have resumed attacks.

Jaish al-Islam, the last remaining rebel group in Eastern Ghouta, denies the accusation.

Others have pointed to internal rebel divisions over the withdrawal process.

Douma-based activist Haitham Bakkar said clashes between Syrian troops and the Army of Islam rebel group are taking place on two main fronts in the town.

"The talks were going well", he said, but power struggles between the regimes allies had caused them to break down.

It also said there were cases of suffocation among civilians from residential areas after they were targeted by "poison gas "chlorine".

  • Joey Payne