At least 29 civilians were killed on Saturday in new attacks by government forces on the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, a war monitor reported, a day after the United Nations delayed a vote on a possible ceasefire in the country.
The region on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus was on Saturday the target of a wave of heavy shelling and airstrikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added.
The bodies of a mother and her four children, killed earlier this week in bombardment, were retrieved from rubble in Eastern Ghouta’s suburb of Ain Terma, the watchdog added.
The latest deaths bring to 505 the number of civilians that the observatory estimates to have been killed in government attacks in Eastern Ghouta in a week-long government offensive. The toll included 123 children.
More than 2,400 people have since been injured there, according to the observatory.
Ten hospital and medical centres in the enclave have also been knocked out of service due to the intense government bombardment.
A rebel commander, meanwhile, said that the region was on Saturday struck by government jets and those of allied Russia.
Government helicopters dropped barrels packed with bombs on several districts in Eastern Ghouta, causing heavy damage in buildings, the commander told dpa.
In retaliation, rebels fired shells into several areas in central Damascus on Saturday, leaving an unspecified number of casualties, the observatory reported.
At least 121 people, including 18 children, have been killed in rebel shelling attacks on Damascus since mid-November, added the Britain-based watchdog that relies on a network of activists inside Syria.
In recent weeks, the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have intensified attacks on Eastern Ghouta, one of the last remaining areas under rebel control near Damascus.
On Friday, the UN Security Council had to postpone until Saturday a vote on a resolution drafted by Kuwait and Sweden proposing a 30-day ceasefire throughout Syria to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the evacuation of critically ill people.
The delay was due to last-minute changes demanded by Russia, a major ally of al-Assad, according to diplomats at the UN.
Russia has concerns that there is no guarantee militants would adhere to any ceasefire and demanded amendments to the draft.
Previous truce attempts have failed to hold in Syria.
Al-Assad’s forces have besieged Eastern Ghouta for more than four years.
A total of 400,000 people in the region have been largely cut off from humanitarian aid, and activists have warned that the situation is dire, with food and medical supplies running out.