Eastern Ghouta, the final bastion of the opposition in Syria, saw renewed air strikes resulting in 70 deaths in a span of 24 hours, as the Bashar al-Aassad regime increased the pressure on the rebels to withdraw.
The regime troops were also accused of using "poisonous chlorine gas" to defeat the rebels while the state media said the story was made up by the latter. However, 11 people were reportedly suffering from breathing problems in Douma in Eastern Ghouta to substantiate the claims that poisonous gas was indeed used.
Around 95 per cent of the enclave near Douma has been emptied out through military onslaughts and a couple of negotiated withdrawals but the rebels were still holding out in Douma.
The rate of bombing in the war-ravaged country had dropped as Russia started talks with Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist faction which holds Douma, lessening the need for military action. But the talks got stalled this week and the air bombings resumed, resulting in the deaths of 40 civilians, as per the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It also said that 30 civilians including eight kids lost their lives in bombings that took place on Saturday, April 7. The number of injured was only increasing and the medical services struggled to meet the need. A local doctor told AFP that some of the injured couldn't be treated on time, resulting in their deaths.
The state media of Syria, meanwhile, claimed that six civilians were killed while dozens were injured after Douma rebels started shelling Damascus, the national capital, on Saturday. The state television also showed live pictures from a hospital in Damascus where blood was scattered and the scream of the injured could be heard.
The rebels defended themselves saying they had not targeted Damascus's neighbourhoods and it was the Assad regime which had violated the ceasefire arrived at during the earlier negotiations.
Assad was keen to retake Ghouta to wipe out the opposition from the outskirts of Damascus and bring the civil war to an end. More than 1,600 people have been killed by the Syrian government's offensive since February this year.