United Nations resident coordinator in Syria says shelling puts Ghouta convoy at risk


A humanitarian convoy entered Syria's Eastern Ghouta during a lull in fighting on Friday but the delivery of aid was threatened by a resumption of shelling in the embattled rebel-held area near Damascus.

"The UN remains ready to deliver assistance to all people in need in Douma, other areas in east Ghouta and other hard-to-reach and besieged areas as soon as conditions allow", said Mr. Dujarric, adding that the UN continues to call on all parties to immediately allow safe and unimpeded access for further convoys to deliver critical supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Jan Egeland says it is "impossible" to cross into the frontline and deliver aid to people "we know are on the starvation point" because of the current fighting, which he describes as possibly the worst ever in the besieged Damascus suburb.

In less than two weeks, the Syrian army has recaptured almost all the farmland in Eastern Ghouta under cover of near ceaseless shelling and air strikes, leaving only a dense sprawl of towns - about half the enclave - still under rebel control.

In addition to the dead, medical facilities supported by the humanitarian organization received an average of 344 wounded people every day in Eastern Ghouta in the same time period, said Jonathan Whittal, MSF's director of the analysis department.

"The situation is relatively good today".

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the aid convoy passed through front lines and was heading to the enclave's biggest town, Douma.

United Nations aid agencies have pleaded with the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, to halt the air campaign and allow access.

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Turkey's foreign minister says his government hopes that a cross-border military offensive in a Syrian Kurdish-held enclave will end before May.

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

Late Friday, Syrian state TV said a group of opposition fighters and their families managed to reach areas controlled by the government - the first to leave the rebel-held district since a new wave of violence broke out last month.

Syrian military forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have continued their offensive against rebel forces in eastern Ghouta. The lorries are carrying food for about 12,000 people in the city of Douma.

On Friday, UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi blasted the United Nations for having "failed spectacularly" to protect Eastern Ghouta's civilians.

Medical facilities have been hit in air strikes, adding to shortages of equipment that have made it harder to treat the wounded.

The WHO has counted 67 attacks on medical units so far in 2018 - roughly half as many as all of a year ago, according to the organization's spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

State television reported on Friday morning that the army had control over the village of Beit Sawa, where rebel officials on Thursday said insurgents had recaptured some positions. Once the relief workers arrived, Syrian government forces shelled the outskirts of the town, he said.