Some humanitarian aid reaches Syria's Eastern Ghouta

MIDEAST-CRISIS  SYRIA

The first aid delivery to reach a besieged rebel area of Damascus in weeks had to be cut short because of government-led shelling while aid workers were still in the vicinity, the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) has said.

Despite the truce, at least 50 civilians were killed Monday in airstrikes and shelling, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

In Syria, Russia has confirmed that a military cargo plane crashed near the northern city of Latakia, killing all 39 people on board.

Syrian government sources denied allegations that Damascus had carried out the attack, dismissing the accusation as an "act of desperation by Western powers".

The UN Security Council will on Wednesday hold urgent talks on the failure of a 30-day ceasefire to take hold in Syria, diplomats said.

Hundreds of civilians have died in eastern Ghouta in recent days, according to tallies from multiple sources, including the London-based Observatory for Human Rights, the hospital support charity the Syrian American Medical Society and the worldwide aid group UOSSM.

In the enclave's main town of Douma, air strikes had reduced homes to piles of rubble on both sides of the road, an AFP correspondent reported. It also said that the US-led coalition had killed 150 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Raqqa in three airstrikes on March 20, 2017, five times the number admitted by the Pentagon. "We are at least able to deliver some aid but other trucks were not fully or partially offloaded with colleagues telling us that people were tearful and angry as they were expecting the aid to get delivered", he said. The U.N.'s humanitarian office said the convoy carried food for 27,500 people.

An AFP reporter in Hammuriyeh said air strikes overnight targeted the town, with only a few residents emerging from the safety of their cellars after day broke.

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Meanwhile, medical staff in Hammouriya in eastern Ghouta reported 12 people from two families were admitted to hospital with chlorine gas inhalation symptoms after a strike late on Monday night.

It had no firm word on the cause. People were telling us desperate stories.

"This time the humanitarian corridor was open not just for Eastern Ghouta's civilians but for fighters with their families".

"Shelling of Damascus continues from the areas controlled by the militants", he said. On Tuesday, Syria's SANA state news agency said troops captured the village of Muhamadiya at the edge of the enclave.

Regime ally Russian Federation last week announced a five-hour daily "humanitarian pause" in the region, during which it said it would guarantee safe passage to civilians wishing to flee the enclave.

Russian Federation has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping him the tide of the bloody civil war in his favor.

It has been repeatedly accused of hitting civilians, and United Nations investigators yesterday said a Russian strike on a crowded Syrian market a year ago may amount to a "war crime".

"The cease fire needs to start now", the UNICEF added.

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