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Syria begins ground assault in Eastern Ghouta as UN aid convoys wait

Syria begins ground assault in Eastern Ghouta as UN aid convoys wait
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By Robert Hackwill
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No deal yet on evacuation of wounded or more aid convoys, but UNICEF says Damascus may allow a convoy with aid for 180,000 of the 400,000 civilians trapped in the region.

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Syrian government forces have begun the ground offensive in Eastern Ghouta, which has endured 12 days of bombardment, and government troops have made gains around the edges of the region of small towns and farms.

Softened up from the air and by artillery fire, the Damascus suburbs included in Ghouta are the rebel's last foothold in the capital, and satellite villages to the east and southeast have already fallen.

All this is happening despite the latest five-hour Russian-backed ceasefire, the fourth. None seem to have had much effect.

UNICEF has an aid convoy with enough supplies for 180,000 of the some 400,000 people trapped in Ghouta ready to roll, and its Middle East director said on Friday the Syrian government may allow it to enter the town of Douma, but there is still no deal on evacuations of the more than 1000 seriously wounded, or other aid convoys.

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