Syria Army Continues to Make Gains against Militants in Ghouta

The UN estimates nearly 400,000 civilians are living under a crippling siege in eastern Ghouta

Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 inhabitants have lived under government siege since 2013 and the enclave - more than half of which has over the past three weeks been retaken by government forces - is home to numerous armed groups.

It showed footage of people getting onto a bus.

For President Bashar al-Assad, it would mark a significant victory as he builds on the military momentum created by Russia's entry into the war in 2015 that has restored his rule over large swathes of the country. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

The report from the UK-based human rights group, which said both Douma and the smaller nearby town of Harasta were surrounded and cut off, was disputed by locals, but such an outcome seems inevitable in any event as the regime presses its advantage, backed by both Syrian and Russian airstrikes.

Syria's state news agency SANA said that government forces pushed deeper into Eastern Ghouta with the aim of cutting off rebels' supply routes between the northern and southern sections of the region.

It was the second convoy in one week, after deliveries on Monday were interrupted by heavy bombardment.

Rebels said they would be taken to HTS territory in the northern province of Idlib, in an arrangement struck following consultations with the United Nations and worldwide players.

Saudi skies are now open to flights to Israel
But the historic animosity has given way to cautious, if often denied, cooperation based on a shared enmity towards Iran. Last week, El Al sought help over the issue from industry lobby group the International Air Transport Association.

Damascus and Moscow accuse the insurgents of shooting at civilians to prevent them fleeing the fighting into government areas.

Syria's conflict erupted with protests against Assad but has since developed into a full-blown war drawing in world powers.

Keen to secure Damascus, government troops and allied militias have been closing in on the enclave since February 18 and have overrun more than half of it.

"After the opening of an additional checkpoint in the direction of Jisrein-Mlekha area, the Syrian side has registered increased number of clashes between the civilians and the militants who are blocking the exits from the area", Zolotukhin told reporters.

Turkey-led rebels have been pressing an assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin since January 20.

Elsewhere in Syria, the White Helmets rescue force suffered its first female fatality on Saturday, after air strikes hit a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

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