Regime claims to capture half of the besieged enclave near Damascus
Pro-Turkey forces seize key Syria town from Kurds: monitor
Aid agencies postponed a convoy of vital food and health supplies to Eastern Ghouta yesterday, as the Syrian regime pressed a relentless ground and air assault against the rebel enclave.
Dozens of people, including many children, were treated overnight for breathing problems and symptoms that medics said were consistent with chlorine attacks, which Western powers have repeatedly warned would not go unpunished.
New air strikes on the town of Zamalka killed at least seven civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, bringing the total number of dead in the offensive to more than 900.
Doctors at one facility in Douma treated at least 29 patients with signs of exposure to chlorine, according to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which supports hospitals in Eastern Ghouta.
It said victims were suffering from shortness of breath, wheezing, and redness of the eyes.
Several families were seen trying to reach fresh air late Wednesday on the roof of a four-storey building in Hammuriyeh, after air strikes on their neighbourhood.
Parents had stripped their children down and were spraying them with water, fearing toxic substances had been absorbed into their clothes.
Regime forces have been repeatedly accused of using chlorine on Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks, which both the government and Russia have staunchly denied.
The aid trucks were meant to bring relief to war-weary civilians living under government siege for five years and now facing a deadly Russian-backed assault.
The fighting has prompted international outrage, culminating in the UN Security Council demanding an immediate ceasefire, aid deliveries and evacuations.
The Syrian army and allied militias began a fierce bombing campaign on February 18 against Ghouta, followed by a ground offensive.
The campaign has so far recaptured half of rebel-held territory, according to the Observatory, a Britain-based monitor.
The UN Security Council on February 24 demanded a 30-day cessation of hostilities but the resolution has done little to bring relief to civilians.
Meanwhile, Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels yesterday took control of the key northern town of Jandairis from Kurdish militia, a monitor said.
A local rebel commander from the Turkey-backed Faylaq al-Sham group told an AFP reporter in Jandairis that the town was under full control.