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Deadly air raids hit Syria's Eastern Ghouta

At least 17 killed and dozens injured in Syrian government bombardments on the weekend, monitors report.

At least 17 civilians have been killed in aerial bombardments carried out by Syrian government forces in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

A series of attacks carried out on Saturday in the district killed 12 people in the Hammuriyeh area, three in Arbin city and two in Medyara, the British-based monitor said.

According to the Syrian Civil Defence, four children and two women were among those killed in the raid on Hammuriyeh.

The death toll from Saturday's attacks was expected to rise, with at least 25 other people injured, some of whom were in critical condition, the SOHR said.

The Syrian Civil Defence reported that more than 40 people were injured during the raid on Hammuriyeh alone.

Government assaults on Eastern Ghouta, situated on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, have been frequent in recent weeks and are believed to be part of the Syrian government's strategy to retake rebel-held positions.

At least 23 civilians were killed by government air raids in rebel-held parts of the district on January 3. The total number of casualties in the region has reached 96 - including 40 women and children - since December 29, according to the SOHR.

MWC News could not independently verify the figures.

'Horrific' spate of attacks

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, an adviser to a coalition of medical charities operating in Syria, said from the UK city of Salisbury that more than 120 children were in need of urgent medical care in the region.

"The last 10 days have been horrific in terms of the amount of attacks, particularly over the Christmas and the New Year period," he said.

"We have seen over 10 hospitals attacked and put out of commission in both Eastern Ghouta and Idlib province, [and] what we absolutely need in Syria is a ceasefire so that those seriously injured children get treated."

Eastern Ghouta is one of a handful of so-called de-escalation zones in Syria, where military activity is prohibited under a ceasefire agreement endorsed last year by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

The area is one of the last rebel strongholds in the country and is home to some 400,000 people. A four-year government siege has led to a humanitarian crisis, with severe shortages of food and medicine.

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