BEIRUT (Reuters) – As the Syrian army pushes deeper into eastern Ghouta under cover of a hammering bombardment, the 400,000 civilians the United Nations says live in the enclave have crowded into dark basements to cower from the ceaseless bombs. Under cracked ceilings that bulge downwards from the force of previous strikes, they string sheets across the basement to partition off rooms for entire families. “Look at it. It is completely uninhabitable. It is not even safe to put chickens in. There is no bathroom, just one toilet, and there are 300 people,” said a man in a shelter in the region’s biggest urban centre, Douma. Like the other people in the shelter he did not want to give his name for fear of reprisals as the army attempts to retake the rebel enclave. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his strongest ally Russia have said the onslaught on eastern Ghouta is needed to end the rule of Islamist insurgents over civilians there and to stop mortar fire on nearby Damascus. But the intensity of the offensive, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says has killed 1,160 people in three weeks, has provoked condemnation from Western countries and pleas from… Read full this story
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