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Syria strikes hit near Damascus despite ceasefire — monitor

Army on Saturday announced halt in fighting for parts of Eastern Ghouta

By AFP - Jul 24,2017 - Last updated at Jul 24,2017

BEIRUT — Syria's regime carried out air raids on one of the last rebel strongholds near Damascus Sunday, a monitor said, a day after it declared a ceasefire in parts of the besieged enclave.

The Syrian army on Saturday announced a halt in fighting for parts of Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held region on the outskirts of the capital that has been ravaged in the six-year conflict.

"Regime warplanes targeted the area of Ain Terma with at least six strikes since early morning, and two raids were carried out on and around the city of Douma," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources in Syria for its information, did not report any casualties.

Regime shelling also hit the outskirts of the town of Jisreen on Sunday, the observatory said, after regime artillery and rocket fire on areas including Ain Terma and the town of Harasta on Saturday after the ceasefire started.

President Bashar Assad's forces have surrounded the Eastern Ghouta region for more than four years, and regime forces have regularly targeted the area.

Assad's forces have for weeks been fighting rebels on the outskirts of Ain Terma, which links Eastern Ghouta to opposition-held parts of the Damascus district of Jobar.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said no extremist forces were present in the areas targeted by regime bombardment.

The army announced a halt in fighting in areas of Eastern Ghouta on Saturday from midday local time, but did not say which areas exactly would be included.

The ceasefire announcement came after regime ally Russia said it had reached a deal with "moderate" rebels on the boundaries and policing of the safe zone.

It said the sides had also agreed "routes to supply humanitarian aid to the population and for free movement of residents".

But no rebel group yielding influence in Eastern Ghouta said they had signed that agreement.

The rebel enclave is in one of four proposed "de-escalation zones" designated in a deal reached by government allies Iran and Russia and rebel backer Turkey in May.

But the accord has yet to be fully implemented over disagreements on policing the safe zones.

A ceasefire was implemented in another "de-escalation zone" in southern Syria on July 9, but none has so far been announced for the northwestern province of Idlib or parts of the central province of Homs.


More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since its conflict broke out in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

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