Distressing video has emerged from a rebel-held area of Syria of a distraught man cradling the body of a dead child as civilians continue to be killed.
The tearful man can be seen holding the child’s corpse in the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus, recently described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a ‘hell on earth’.
The UN has called for an immediate ceasefire to prevent a ‘massacre’ in Eastern Ghouta – the last major rebel-held area near Damascus – where 400,000 people have been under siege since 2013.
The footage shows a distraught and tearful man carrying the body of a child
A truck carrying the corpses of those killed in Eastern Ghouta can also be seen
Scores of people have been killed in the rebel-held enclave in recent days
Wounded Syrians wait to receive treatment at a makeshift hospital in the Eastern Ghouta town of Kafr Batna following a bombardment by government forces on February 21, 2018
Local people attempt to clean up the rubble of damaged buildings in Ghouta, following several days of airstrikes
The regime and its Russian ally have been pounding Ghouta, which is controlled by Jihadists
An unconscious woman is helped from a shelter. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 46 people were killed on Thursday
A man is helped from a shelter by civil defence volunteers in the eastern Ghouta
A child is pictured in the rubble of a building. Civilians have come under fire as the regime prepares for a ground assault on the area
The bombing is feared to be carried out with the intention of killing or wounding as many rebels as possible before President Bashar al-Assad sends in troops to reclaim the region.
‘Five days of air strikes and intense artillery fire by the regime and its Russian ally have killed 403 civilians, including 95 children,’ the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said 46 people were killed in strikes and rocket fire on Thursday.
The area is controlled by jihadist and Islamist groups but many civilian areas and even hospitals were targeted this week, sparking an international outcry.
The armed groups in Ghouta have also fired rockets and mortar rounds on civilian areas in the capital, which is under government control, killing at least 16 over the same period.
The child seen in the video is one of several bodies seen wrapped in cloths and blankets in the footage, with many piled onto the back of a truck.
A Syrian military helicopter flies over the rebel-held town of Kafr Batna during a bombardment on February 21, 2018
A wounded Syrian girl receives treatment at a makeshift hospital in Kafr Batna following government bombardment of the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on February 21, 2018
A Syrian surveys the destruction after an air strike on the Eastern Ghouta town of Hamouria on February 21, 2018
Human rights groups say that hundreds have been injured in addition to those killed. They have accused Russian and Syrian planes of sometimes using barrel bombs – oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel – to strike hospitals, markets and other civilian targets in eastern Ghouta.
Residents of Douma, the biggest town in Eastern Ghouta, described black plumes of smoke on Thursday as residential areas were again subjected to high-altitude bombing.
Residents on the ground had to dodge the explosions as they searched for bodies buried beneath the rubble in the town of Saqba and elsewhere.
The UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura,De Mistura said he hoped that a Security Council resolution would soon be in place that calls for a ceasefire in eastern Ghouta, but acknowledged such a motion would be difficult to obtain.
Other recent harrowing footage showed a cameraman who found his family screaming beneath rubble after an airstrike.
Video shows the man desperately trying to rescue his pregnant aunt, four cousins and grandmother from the ruins of a building in Eastern Ghouta after the area was hammered by President Assad’s forces.
The cameraman was capturing footage of the dictator’s deadly bombing campaign when he heard their haunting cries for help.
A trapped woman with a bloodied face can be seen crying out in agony as rescuers scramble to free her. The face of a badly injured little boy can also be seen.
Harrowing footage captures the moment a cameraman found his family screaming beneath rubble after a devastating airstrike in a rebel-held town in Syria
The cameraman was capturing footage of the dictator’s deadly bombing campaign when he heard the haunting cries and ran to help
Video shows the man desperately trying to rescue his pregnant aunt, four cousins and grandmother from the ruins of a building in Eastern Ghouta after the area was hammered by Bashar al-Assad’s forces
The video also shows rescuers carrying a man away from the bombed out remains of a building. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres described the death and devastation that has engulfed Eastern Ghouta since Sunday as ‘hell on earth’, and joined France in calling for an immediate humanitarian truce
The footage, shown in an ITN report, then shows him sprinting away towards a medical clinic with an injured child in his arms.
But the report revealed that 22 hospitals have been specifically targeted in just 72 hours.
International pressure mounted on Thursday to end civilian suffering in the a enclave – Mr Guterres has joined France in calling for an immediate humanitarian truce.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called for an end to the ‘massacre’ after fresh air killed another 13 people.
Condemning the Syrian regime for targeting ‘its own people’, Merkel said: ‘The killing of children, the destruction of hospitals – all that amounts to a massacre that must be condemned and which must be countered with a clear no’.
The UN Security Council is expected to vote, probably on Thursday, on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire to allow deliveries of aid and medical evacuations.
Fresh air raids on several parts of the enclave killed at least 50 civilians, including eight children, and wounded 350 on Wednesday
A rescue worker holds an injured girl in the rebel held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, yesterday
The push for a vote came after the Red Cross demanded access to the area, saying the situation was so dire that its teams should be allowed access to Eastern Ghouta to help overwhelmed doctors and nurses.
Fresh air raids on several parts of the enclave killed at least 50 civilians, including eight children, and wounded 350 on Wednesday.
Because many of the region’s hospitals have been targeted, many are now out of service.
‘The fighting appears likely to cause much more suffering in the days and weeks ahead, and our teams need to be allowed to enter Eastern Ghouta to aid the wounded,’ said Marianne Gasser, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s head of delegation in Syria.
Syrian warplanes have this month intensified their strikes on the area with wounded victims dying only because they cannot be treated in time, Gasser said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 1,500 people have been wounded since Sunday.
Many of Wednesday’s victims were killed when barrel bombs were dropped on the town of Kfar Batna.
The hospital in Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta, is still functioning but the influx of wounded is such that doctors and nurses cannot save everyone.
The UN and an NGO said at least seven hospitals were bombed on Monday and Tuesday.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres described the death and devastation that has engulfed Eastern Ghouta since Sunday as ‘hell on earth’, and joined France in calling for an immediate humanitarian truce
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of using terrorism as a ‘pretext’ to attack civilians
‘The regime claims that it’s targeting armed groups and terrorists, but the truth is that it only targets civilians,’ said Doctor Ahmad Abdulghani, at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Hammuriyeh, heavily damaged by a strike.
‘This is a hospital that treats the sick and civilians, why target it?’
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said at least 76 children were among the 320 people killed in strikes since Sunday.
Syrian state news agency SANA said 18 people were wounded in Damascus by rebel shelling.
Sweden and Kuwait drafted a UN resolution pushing for a month-long ceasefire, requesting a vote ‘as soon as possible,’ the Swedish mission said.
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Syrian President Assad’s regime of using terrorism as a ‘pretext’ to attack civilians.
Russia, which is Assad’s main backer but denies direct involvement in the Ghouta strikes, earlier called for a Security Council meeting on the crisis, which Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described as a ‘complex situation’.
‘There are terrorists there who the Syrian army is fighting,’ Nebenzia said.
But US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it was ‘simply preposterous to claim that these attacks on civilians have anything to do with fighting terrorism’.
Syrian warplanes have this month intensified their strikes on the area, which lies just east of Damascus and is home to around 400,000 civilians
International pressure mounted today to end civilian suffering in the a rebel-held enclave near Damascus where Syrian jets have been raining bombs in a blitz that has killed more than 300
Anti-regime groups, mostly Islamist factions as well as al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, have controlled the area since 2012.
With the ISIS ‘caliphate’ now wiped of the map, the regime looks bent on completing its reconquest. Ghouta is a key target.
In recent days, government forces have been massing around the enclave, apparently preparing for a ground offensive.
‘We have long feared Eastern Ghouta will see a repeat of the terrible scenes observed by the world during the fall of east Aleppo and these fears seem to be well founded,’ said Mark Schnellbaecher, the regional head of the International Rescue Committee.
The violence in eastern Ghouta is part of a wider escalation in warfare on several fronts in Syria in recent months as President Bashar al-Assad pushes to end the seven-year rebellion against him
The battle that saw government forces wrest back the country’s second city from rebel forces in 2016 caused extensive destruction and suffering that drew comparisons with the World War II era devastation in Stalingrad and the Warsaw ghetto.
‘We don’t dare go outside,’ said Khadija, 53, hiding in a basement in the town of Douma.
Shivering as she gathered several children around her in the darkened room, she said: ‘There are planes above us and missiles landing around us: where should we go with our children?’
The regime is also seeking to restore its grip on other areas in the north, including the province of Idlib, the last one that remains largely outside its control.
Why is the Assad regime attacking eastern Ghouta?
Eastern Ghouta is one of the last major areas held by rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The area, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, had been designated a ‘de-escalation zone’ by Russia and Iran, the government’s main allies, in an agreement along with Turkey, which backs the rebels.
But hostilities intensified in mid-November in the densely populated area, which is home to 400,000 people.
The latest violence in eastern Ghouta is the worst since 2013 when 1,300 people died after the Assad regime deployed sarin gas.
Eastern Ghouta has been devastated by sustained air and artillery attack by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally
The Russian military is again supporting Assad’s forces as it did in the all-out assault on the rebel-held half of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, in late 2016, which drove the rebels from their enclave there.
Five days of air strikes and intense artillery fire by the regime and Russian ally have killed 403 civilians, including 95 children.
The rebels eastern Ghouta are dominated by the Islamist faction Jaysh al-Islam and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance led by al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, also operates there.
They have also fired rockets and mortar rounds on civilian areas in the capital, which is under government control, killing at least 16, as the area has come under attack.
According to regime media, President Assad is preparing for a final push on the enclave and securing government areas around the capital would represent a significant victory.