Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town -rebel sources

Two Syrian kids who were wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces sit at a makeshift hospital in Ghouta suburb of Damascus Syria

The death toll in a barrage of rebel rocket fire on a popular shopping district of Syria's capital Damascus has risen to 44 civilians, state media said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a rocket fell on a popular residential area across the rebel-held enclave killing at least 40 people, according to medics in government controlled areas.

In Eastern Ghouta alone, UNHCR said, more than 45,000 Syrians have fled their homes in recent days.

The rebels, from the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group, are likely to be taken to the region around the town of al-Bab, east of Aleppo, held by Turkey and rebel groups allied to it. An AFP correspondent at the main Damascus hospital said there were so many dead, they could not fit in the mortuary.

At least 150 civilians have been killed by Government attacks in the last five days.

The Syrian authorities accused rebels of firing the rockets in revenge attacks which rebels deny.

The U.S. and Russian Federation have been lashing out at each other for months over the issue of accountability for chemical attacks in Syria.

"Since the launch of "humanitarian pauses" in Eastern Ghouta, 80,414 people left Eastern Ghouta with the assistance of the Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation", Yevtushenko said on late Tuesday.

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More than 40 tons of chemical weapons were abandoned by retreating militants in the war-ravaged country, the ministry said on Wednesday.

Residents in Douma, the largest town in eastern Ghouta, also reported indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes.

With government forces tied up in the monthlong offensive on eastern Ghouta, Islamic State militants seized a neighborhood on Damascus' southern edge, forcing the government to rush in reinforcements.

This comes as the Syrian army is advancing in the depth of the rebel bastions in Eastern Ghouta in the countryside of Damascus.

The fact-finding team looked into those allegations, Uzumcu said, "and they couldn't find any credible information to pursue an investigation".

Mr Abdel Rahman said dozens more forces loyal to the Assad regime were wounded or captured, or are still missing in action.

The Harasta deal may add pressure on the two main rebel groups - Failaq al-Rahman in the southern pocket and Jaish al-Islam in Douma - to also reach understandings. Most headed northwest to Idlib province. Up to 100 civilians were said to have been killed by sarin gas, released in an airstrike by Syrian government forces. President Bashar Assad paid a rare visit to troops on the front lines over the weekend.


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