January 28, 2018 / 9:53 AM / 4 months ago

Heavy fighting resumes in Syria's eastern Ghouta

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Heavy fighting resumed in Syria’s eastern Ghouta on Sunday after a short period of relative calm following reports that a ceasefire had been agreed there late on Friday, a war monitor and pro-government media sources said.

A man is seen near the remains of a rocket in Douma, Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said there was intense fighting accompanied by large blasts, heavy shelling and air raids after an attack by jihadist rebels. It said the Syrian army of President Bashar al-Assad had fired dozens of rockets and shells into eastern Ghouta since the ceasefire was reported to have begun.

A military media unit run by Assad’s ally Hezbollah said the Syrian army had repulsed an attack by jihadist rebels in eastern Ghouta, detonating an insurgent car bomb. It had then responded to the assault with shelling and air strikes, it said.

A resident of Damascus said bombardment could be heard coming from eastern Ghouta on Sunday morning and smoke was visible.

Late on Friday, a rebel official said that Assad’s ally Russia had promised the opposition delegation at peace talks in Vienna that it would put pressure on Damascus to enforce a truce in eastern Ghouta.

The ceasefire was never publicly confirmed by the Syrian government.

International concern has been rising over the fate of 400,000 people living in besieged, rebel-held eastern Ghouta as acute food and medicine shortages have contributed to what the United Nations has called the worst malnutrition of the war.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Catherine Evans

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