Thousands flee as dozens killed in Syria air strikes

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Thousands of Syrians have fled two major assaults which have seen dozens of people killed at opposite ends of the war-torn country.

Air strikes by the Syrian government and Russia killed at least 76 people in eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Meanwhile, Turkish attacks on the Kurdish-held town Afrin in northern Syria are reported to have left at least 27 people dead and forced 2,500 people to flee their homes.

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People sit in a truck with their belongings in the north east of Afrin, Syria
Image: Some 2,500 people have fled the town of Afrin

Syria’s ambassador to the UN said 40,000 people have been able to leave eastern Ghouta, the last rebel-held stronghold, amid attacks by forces loyal to Bashar al Assad.

The Syrian army say they have recaptured 70% of the territory that has been under insurgent control.

Syria’s civil war entered its eighth year this week, having killed half a million people and driven more than 11 million from their homes.

A child sleeps in a bag in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria
Image: A child sleeps in a bag in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta

Nearly six million Syrians have fled abroad in one of the worst refugee crises of modern times.

The latest air strikes in eastern Ghouta killed 64 people, including 13 children, in the town of Kafr Batna and another 12 people in nearby Saqba, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian government and Russia accuse the rebels of forcing people to stay in harm’s way as human shields – something the rebels deny.

Smoke plume over Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Credit: Save The Children/Syria Relief
Image: Smoke rises over Douma in eastern Ghouta, Syria. Pic: Save The Children/Syria Relief

Earlier on Friday, Turkish aircraft dropped leaflets in Arabic and Kurdish on Afrin, asking residents to stay away from “terrorist positions” and to not let themselves be used as “human shields”.

The leaflets claimed that civilians wanting to flee Afrin would be guaranteed safety by the Turkish military and urged Syrian Kurdish fighters to “trust the hand we extend to you”.

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“Come surrender! A calm and peaceful future awaits you in Afrin,” the leaflets read.

Thursday saw the largest single-day exodus of civilians in Syria’s civil war, with an estimated 42,000 people fleeing.

From – SkyNews

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