EASTERN GHOUTA, Syria/ANKARA, Turkey
Nine civilians were killed Friday in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta district, a suburb of Damascus, by airstrikes carried out by the Assad regime, according to local civil-defense sources.
The airstrikes, which targeted residential areas, killed five civilians in the town of Duma and another four in Arbin, sources told Anadolu Agency.
Search-and-rescue operations remain ongoing and the death toll is expected to rise further, according to Syria’s White Helmets civil-defense agency.
Notably, Eastern Ghouta falls within a network of so-called de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Nevertheless, the Syrian regime continues to target residential parts of the city, killing at least 533 people -- and injuring 2,000 others -- since Dec. 29 of last year.
Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict to date.