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Aid group warns of crisis in battered Syria rebel enclave

10 February 2018

"That is not realistic", said Russia's United Nations envoy, Vassily Nebenzia.

The Pentagon said coalition advisers had been with SDF forces when the base was attacked 8 kilometers east of the Euphrates River deconfliction line in Deir al-Zor Province. "We were invited by the government of Syria to fight terrorists since 2015", he told reporters on Thursday.

Many believe pro-government forces are pushing for a decisive outcome.

The BSF would be mainly constituted by the YPG, which has been supported politically and militarily by the United States since 2014 in the battle against the Islamic State.

"Let's be realistic", he said.

The Syrian military claimed the Israeli attack emanated from Lebanese airspace.

Nebenzya also denied the information that Russian Federation had "blocked" the statement on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The State Department says it's "extremely concerned" about growing violence in Idlib, as well as in the eastern Ghouta area near Damascus.

In response, Syrian state media called the USA attack an "aggression" and a "new massacre", the AP writes.

"We leave the suicide attacks for the YPG and PKK so that the world will be convinced that they are terrorists", the 32-year-old quoted a Turkish officer. "These Syrian aid workers are all alone - they are the only ones trying to help their communities", said senior communications officer Christy Delafield.

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The death toll has risen from an initial report of 16 to around 70, including 18 children, .

The death toll mounted steadily throughout Thursday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights giving 75 civilians dead by the evening.

Moayad al-Hafi, a rescue worker, said his team was targeted as they retrieved bodies near Erbin.

But in Eastern Ghouta, 78 people would be counted among the dead before the night was over on Tuesday, another 36 perished on Wednesday and at least 38 on Thursday, according to activists.

Russian Federation dismissed calls for a month-long humanitarian ceasefire as the UN Security Council met to discuss the worsening humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the U.N.'s assistant secretary-general and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Panos Moumtzis, said the United Nations could "no longer stay silent", in the light of stepped-up attacks on de-escalation zones in the country.

It said the assault reflects the "dirty USA intentions against Syria's sovereignty and territorial unity".

Ankara's operation followed USA calls to establish a Kurdish-led "border security force (BSF)" in the future in Syria along the 900-km border with Turkey, a move that has angered Turkey.

Meanwhile, France's foreign minister said Wednesday that Assad's government is likely using chlorine gas in its latest attacks on rebel-held areas.

It is estimated that 400,000 people are trapped in Eastern Ghouta, and its people suffer severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines. The region has been battered in an escalatory government bombing campaign.

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Diplomacy is making no progress toward ending a war now approaching its eighth year, having killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced half the pre-war Syrian population of 23 million from their homes, with millions forced out as refugees.

"Whenever anything happens on the political or military level the revenge is extracted from the civilians", said the Eastern Ghouta doctor.

On Monday, at least 28 people were killed, while on Sunday, a suspected chlorine attack left a dozen people suffering from breathing difficulties.

Turkey launched an offensive into the enclave three weeks ago to rout Syrian Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers to be a security threat due to their links to outlawed rebels in Turkey.

"To confront those who really fight global terrorism on the ground in Syria is criminal", Vassily Nebenzia said.

The deadliest strikes hit a market in the town of Erbin and killed 21 civilians including nine children.

"The U.N. appealed on Tuesday for an immediate halt to the bombardment".

More than 100 pro-regime fighters were killed, the official added.

The battle underscored the competing global and regional powers fighting in Syria and the myriad conflicts they are prosecuting on Syrian territory almost seven years into the civil war.

SANA labeled it an "aggression" and a "new massacre". The media cited reports of dozens killed and wounded. It was not immediately clear when the Istanbul meeting would take place.

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Russian Federation has waged a punishing aerial campaign against Syria's armed opposition since intervening in the civil war on the side of its ally, President Bashar Assad, in 2015.

Aid group warns of crisis in battered Syria rebel enclave