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Syrian regime kills 200 civilians; 100 pro-Assad men die in strikes

Children in Eastern Ghouta have been hit hard. (AFP)
JEDDAH: Four days of Syrian regime raids on Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 200 civilians, a war monitor said on Thursday, as the Syrian opposition denounced the “atrocities.”
Regime troops have since Monday waged an intense air campaign against Eastern Ghouta, the only significant opposition pocket near the capital Damascus.
Bombardment on Thursday alone killed 58 civilians, including 15 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The deadliest strikes hit a market in the town of Erbin, killing 21 civilians, including nine children.
“These are the worst four days that Eastern Ghouta has ever gone through,” said Hamza, a doctor at the local Erbin clinic who was treating wounded patients.
“From 2011 until now, there has never been the level of bombardment we’ve seen in the last 96 hours.”
The opposition condemned the air raids. “As long as Iranian militias and Hezbollah are there, Syria won’t see peace,” opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News.
Hezbollah has killed Syrians and worked “brutally” to keep the regime in power, he said.
Also on Thursday, the US-led coalition said it killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an attack on its allies in eastern Syria, in one of its deadliest confrontations yet with forces backing Damascus.
The initial attack was carried out by pro-regime forces on key oil and gas installations in parts of Deir Ezzor province controlled by US-backed Kurdish forces.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the ultimate US goal in Syria was not to fight Daesh but to seize economic assets, the Interfax news agency reported.
Al-Aridi said: “The Russians are working on finding all sorts of excuses to cover up the failure of the political process and their efforts to sideline any political process.”
The Russians are also trying to mask the savagery being inflicted in Eastern Ghouta, he added.
Turkish presidential sources on Thursday said Ankara, Moscow and Tehran will meet in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian crisis. Though the date is not fixed yet, the meeting is expected to take place this month. 
In parallel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met on Wednesday in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani.

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