Macron reiterates warning that France will strike Syria over chemical attacks

Macron reiterates warning that France will strike Syria over chemical attacks

Assad and his ally Russian Federation say the assault on eastern Ghouta is needed to end the rule of Islamist insurgents over the civilian population and to stop mortar fire on nearby Damascus.

After the army advances split up the enclave, Jaish al-Islam emerged as the strongest group in the town of Douma, Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Harasta and Failaq al-Rahman in the new southern pocket of eastern Ghouta.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a ferocious air and artillery bombardment of the eastern Ghouta district since February 18 as the Syrian government seeks to crush the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

Another strike hit a civil defence centre in the Laja area and residential areas in several towns, a resident in Busr al Harir said.

"We also warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must", Haley said.

Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad denied opposition charges that government forces used poisonous gas in their attacks on some suburbs of Damascus.

The assault on Ghouta is one of the heaviest in the war, which enters its eighth year this week.

Defeat in eastern Ghouta would deliver the rebels their biggest blow since December 2016, when a government offensive drove them from Aleppo, their largest urban stronghold.

Rebel-held parts of Ghouta are under a crippling government siege that has made it hard for its estimated 400,000 residents to access food and medicine.

United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Hailey denounced the failure to implement the resolution, and said her country was drafting a new one with "no room for evasion".

Rebel groups in eastern Ghouta have vowed they will fight on.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in eastern Ghouta, said on Monday it had reached an agreement with the government's ally Russian Federation to evacuate wounded people.

The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on an extensive network of sources on the ground across Syria, said 353,935 people have been killed since March 15, 2011.

Last week - amid reports of negotiations taking place between rebel groups and the Syrian government - a number of fighters and their families were evacuated from the enclave, state media reported.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded a 30-day halt in fighting across Syria in order to allow those in need of medical care to get help and for humanitarian aid to reach people who need food and supplies. "There's an terrible lot of reports about chlorine gas use or about symptoms that could be resulting from chlorine gas", Mattis said.

Mattis said Russian Federation, which intervened militarily in Syria to support the Assad government, could be complicit in the civilian casualties.

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