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Thousands Of Civilians Flee Offensives In Syria's Ghouta, Afrin Regions


A Syrian child sleeps in a bag in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, as his family flees the area on March 15, 2018.

Thousands of civilians streamed out of their towns in Syria’s north and south on March 17 as they sought to escape a military offensive by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held area near Damascus and Turkey's operation against a Kurdish enclave.

Syrian state media said that 10,000 more men, women, and children fled eastern Ghouta for government-controlled territory, as Russian-backed Syrian troops pressed on their offensive on the last opposition-controlled pocket near the capital.

The assault has killed more than 1,390 civilians in the enclave, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Another deadly offensive is unfolding in the north, where Turkish-led forces pressed a ground and air operation to seize the Kurdish-held region of Afrin.

The offensive has sent more than 200,000 civilians onto the roads in less than three days, the Observatory said.

It also said that a Turkish strike on March 16 hit Afrin's hospital, killing nine people and damaging the already-strapped facility.

Turkey’s military denied shelling the hospital.

The seven-year war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on peaceful protests, has claimed more than 350,000 lives, according to a UN-backed inquiry.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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