Diplomatic efforts are underway to rescue an evacuation plan for civilians and rebels trapped in the city. Thousands were due to leave today, but a ceasefire collapsed amid acrimony and fresh reports of reprisals by Syrian forces and their allies.
Syrian forces backed by Russia have launched deadly attacks across the country in the run-up to UN-backed talks. After making gains against rebels and the "Islamic State," Damascus is consolidating control in Syria.
The UN says 137 children under siege in the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta require immediate evacuation. Five children there are reported to have already died from a lack of medical care.
Syria's White Helmets are sounding the alarm. In light of ongoing UN-led peace talks, the civil protection organization is calling for increased civilian safeguards and more international pressure on the Assad regime.
Amnesty International says the Syrian regime has conducted unlawful sieges aimed at forcing civilians from their homes ahead of "reconciliation" accords. It accuses Damascus of using "surrender or starve" tactics.
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