Nineteen youngsters killed in Syrian airstrikes

Sputnik  Mikhail Voskresensky      
                                               Konstantin Truevtsev

Paulo Pinheiro described the government's siege and indiscriminate bombardment of eastern Ghouta as "international crimes".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also says at least 20 people, including children, complained of similar symptoms after government forces bombed a city near the capital Damascus in January.

Residents in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, and in the northwestern Idlib province have accused Syrian troops of using the toxic weapons in recent weeks.

Russia, along with Iran, is backing embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the country's bloody civil war. "I saw many families all gone because of the Assad regime and Russian Federation", said Nour Adam, a 21-year-old media activist living in Ghouta.

Instead, the first weeks of 2018 have turned into one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict yet, with hundreds killed in airstrikes, almost 300,000 displaced in northwestern Syria and 400,000 at risk of starvation in a besieged area east of Damascus that has not received food since November.

Ragıp Soylu, Washington correspondent for Turkey's Daily Sabah outlet, said on Twitter shortly after the news broke that local sources were claiming no chemical attack had occurred, but that the FSA fighters had been exposed to some form of smoke from another source.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman added that few rebels were among the dead because they rarely left their tunnels and had better protection from air strikes than civilians, estimated to number around 400,000 in Ghouta.

Haley told the UN Security Council that Russian Federation has delayed adoption of a council statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, including a reported chlorine gas attack Thursday in the opposition-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta that injured over 20 civilians including children.

Eastern Ghouta, where an estimated 400,000 people are living under a crippling government siege, is included in a de-escalation deal agreed past year by rebel ally Turkey and government supporters Iran and Russian Federation.

"What is happening in eastern Ghouta is not simply a humanitarian crisis because aid is denied, these sieges involve the global crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population", stated Mr. Pinheiro.

"They are calling for at least [a] one-month humanitarian pause starting immediately throughout Syria given the very critical humanitarian needs, and the inability to provide the aid that we do have", United Nations spokesman Jens Laerke said.

The UN mission in Damascus warned of "dire consequences" to the humanitarian crises in Syria, identifying seven areas needing urgent relief. The ongoing fighting and deliberate obstructions by forces were preventing aid organizations from reaching civilians, it said.

Once granted access, three United Nations convoys could be dispatched each week, reaching more than 700,000 people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in the next two months, according to the United Nations.

Israel and Syria remain technically at war.

Fighting flares again at the end of 2012 as the rebels set up base in Eastern Ghouta.

The White Helmets said three of its rescuers and six other people suffered breathing problems.

"We're here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area", Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said during a visit to USA forces in Manbij. It sees the YPG, the bulk of the US -backed force in Syria, as a terrorist organization. Turkey has agreed to set up 12 observation posts in Idlib and neighboring provinces. The military said the soldier was killed late Monday by a mortar-and-rocket attack that also wounded five Turkish soldiers and a civilian military contractor.

At least 300,000 people have been displaced in Idlib since mid-December, when the most recent regime push on the area began.

The U.S. airstrike coincides with escalating violence in Syria, where Turkey has been carrying out a military offensive to clear a U.S. -backed Kurdish militia from in a northwestern border town, increasing tensions between the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey.

Over the course of the last week, dozens of civilians have been killed in Idlib as Russian and regime warplanes target residential areas and refugee camps. The pilot reportedly killed himself with a grenade rather than be captured.

"The phone call focused on the Syrian regions of Afrin and Idlib".

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