Syria: UN, situation in Ghouta beyond imagination

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Opposition forces just outside of Damascus have sporadically shelled the capital for years.

Some diplomats said they were hoping that Russian Federation abstain, if it is unwilling to back the ceasefire.

"Any step by the regime or other elements in this direction will surely have serious consequences", Ibrahim Kalin told reporters.

Ankara, which warned Syrian troops not to help YPG fighters, considers the YPG a "terrorist group" linked to the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders. Turkish forces reportedly shelled the area in response.

The Syrian military said it carried out "precision strikes" on areas from which the shells were launched. A victory would give Turkey a contiguous buffer zone inside Syria stretching some 150 km across northern portions of Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

"We don't dare go outside", said Khadija, 53, hiding in a basement in the town of Douma.

He said the mediation was between insurgents and Moscow, the Syrian government's key ally, but did not elaborate. "The shelling is continuing".

Germany has accused Bashar al-Assad's regime of carrying out a massacre in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and called on the regime's backers Russian Federation and Iran to use their influence to stop bombing of civilians. Besides, 13 more people were killed and 77 others wounded when militants in Eastern Ghouta fired 114 rocket and mortar rounds on several neighbourhoods here on Tuesday, said Syria state-run SANA news, citing police.

The hospital in Douma, the largest town in eastern Ghouta, is still functioning but the influx of wounded is such that doctors and nurses can not save everyone.

There were also 15 deaths and 51 injuries reported among civilians in and around Damascus, the result of a dramatic escalation of rebel fire on Government areas.

Eastern Ghouta is dominated by the Islamist faction Jaysh al-Islam.

An Amnesty International spokesman said: "The Syrian government, with the backing of Russian Federation, is intentionally targeting its own people in eastern Ghouta".

"By God, I am exhausted in every sense of the word", said the physician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for the safety of relatives in government-controlled areas of Damascus.

"Nearly all people living here live in shelters now".

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

The UN has described the situation in eastern Ghouta as "hell on earth" and has called for a ceasefire to allow medical and humanitarian aid.

The siege has restricted access to medical supplies, while three clinics were hit and put out of service this week, overwhelming medics.

The Kremlin on Wednesday denied any involvement in the strikes and rejected reports to the contrary as "groundless accusations".

Ingy Sedky, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who has been posted in Damascus for two years, said she has "never witnessed such an intensity in shelling within the city".

The United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, appealed on Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, allowing humanitarian aid to reach people there.

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