Greater than 100 pro-Syrian forces mentioned killed after thwarted assault

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to the Middle East as Syrian and Russian forces step up strikes such as the reported regime attacks which left Syrian civilians fleeing in the rebel-held town of Jisreen in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to the Middle East as Syrian and Russian forces step up strikes such as the reported regime attacks which left Syrian civilians fleeing in the rebel-held town of Jisreen in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region

Violence also flared in eastern Syria on Thursday, where the US-led coalition said it had killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an attack on its Kurdish allies.

As Ruth reported on Wednesday, intensifying government attacks on civilians - including the bombings in eastern Ghouta, multiple attacks in Idlib and reported chlorine gas attacks - "have been interpreted partly as a response to the rebel downing of a Russian Su-25 plane Saturday near Saraqeb".

Home to an estimated 400,000 people, the Eastern Ghouta region has been included in a de-escalation deal that was meant to bring calm.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Syrian Kurdish fighters captured the last two members of an Islamic State cell that, according to USA officials, had beheaded over 27 Western hostages.

"These are the worst four days that Eastern Ghouta has ever gone through", said Hamza, an overwhelmed doctor at the Erbin clinic who was treating wounded patients.

At least 1062 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Friday.


In a closed-door Security Council session, United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock appealed for the cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged civilians. "Children and teachers are terrified that at any moment they could be hit".

A Western intelligence agency told the BBC a year ago that three branches of the SSRC, including the one at Jamraya, were being used to produce chemical munitions in violation of a deal that saw Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad agree to destroy his chemical arsenal after a 2013 deadly Sarin attack against civilians in Damascus.

Quoting an unnamed U.S. official, Reuters news agency said that the coalition was responding to an attack against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Az Zor.

Asked about the one-month pause, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said, "That is not realistic".

You can hear more about the situation in northern Syria in the latest dispatch from Tom Bowman, who is on the ground with American forces. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says there have been reports of new attacks in the last 48 hours killing "dozens" of civilians. She says the goal is to allow humanitarian aid and medical care to flow to more than 700 civilians in eastern Ghouta.

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