Food and other essential commodities in short supply as regime gains ground backed by air strikes.
Residents of Eastern Ghouta are facing dire humanitarian situation amid non-stop bombardment and shelling of the areas for the past two weeks, as Syrian government gained some ground in the besieged rebel-held enclave east of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said late on Saturday that government forces have retaken 10 percent of Eastern Ghouta, intensifying fighting for the control of the battered territory – home to nearly 400,000 people.
Food and other essential commodities are in short supply, and despite repeated requests from the UN for an emergency humanitarian access, little aid has reached the area due to the fighting.
“The situation in Eastern Ghouta is in its worst period since the beginning of the siege until now,” said local journalist Firas al-Abdullah.
“Most people still live underground in basements and shelters, which has led to children having breathing problems and other health issues.”
674 people, including over 150 children, are now believed to have been killed in the besieged enclave since February 18, when Russia-backed regime forces started pounding one of the armed opposition’s last strongholds in the country.
A sixth day of a Russian-led five-hour “humanitarian pause” has just gotten under way in the besieged area, but residents in the past have mocked the “ceasefire” saying the bombing has never been ceased.
A UN Security Council resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria has hardly been implemented.
The Britain-based monitor said that the regime forces have recaptured four areas in the east and southeast of the enclave as well as two air bases.
“Regime forces and their allies have intensified their attacks on rebel positions in the past 48 hours,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Speaking from Beirut, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said that rebels described the gains made by the pro-government alliance as “not significant”.
“They have remained defiant and said that they will continue fighting,” Khodr said.
“These areas [retaken by the Syrian government] are mainly farmland and small towns that are not heavily populated or built up,” Khodr said.
“There is no doubt that there is less intensity in the bombardment, but nevertheless civilians continue to die,” she continued.
“This bombing campaign continues despite the criticism coming especially from western nations.”