Syria government strikes rebel forces near Damascus: Monitor

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Seven people, including two children, died in the strikes on the suburbs of Zamalka and Eastern Ghouta

A Syrian amputee uses crutches to walk next to a building that was destroyed following a reported air strike on the rebel-held town of Ayn Tarma, in Syria's eastern Ghouta area, on July 14, 2017 (AFP)
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Saturday 15 July 2017 10:06 UTC
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Syrian government air strikes on two rebel-held areas near Damascus killed seven people including two children on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

The Britain-based monitor said five of the deaths, including the children, were in strikes on Ain Terma in the Eastern Ghouta region, the largest rebel enclave around the capital.

The two other deaths were in Zamalka, which neighbours Ain Terma, the group said, adding that warplanes had carried out around 20 air strikes on the two areas on Friday.

The strikes also injured at least 15 people, some of whom were in serious condition, the monitor said.

In recent weeks, government forces have been heavily bombarding Ain Terma, which links the Eastern Ghouta area to the opposition-held Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar.

They are pressing a military operation intended to try to sever Jobar from Eastern Ghouta, leaving it isolated.

The Eastern Ghouta region is one of the areas covered in a ceasefire plan agreed in May by Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey.

But disagreements over how to monitor the four so-called "de-escalation zones" proposed by the plan have delayed its implementation.

So far, just one of the zones is operational, in the south, where a ceasefire for the provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida began on 9 July and is largely holding.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.