United Nations chief urges Syria parties to begin cease-fire

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Airstrikes by Russian Federation and a USA -led coalition killed civilians in Syria on a large scale previous year, while the Assad government carried out unlawful chemical weapon attacks in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, U.N. war crimes investigators said Tuesday.

The Syrian regime again pounds the area on March 4 as President Bashar al-Assad says his forces will continue their push.

"The Russian Reconciliation Centre guarantees the immunity of all rebel fighters who take the decision to leave Eastern Ghouta with personal weapons and together with their families", said the defense ministry statement.

Beyond Eastern Ghouta, Zeid said the seven-year-old conflict in Syria was entering "a new phase of horror", noting rising violence in the rebel-held area of Idlib and Turkey's offensive in Afrin.

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Almost half of the food carried on the convoy could not be delivered and Syrian authorities removed some medical and health supplies from the trucks, the United Nations said. Military operations to beat back government attempts to advance into and capture Misraba were "ongoing", he added.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says there has been no letup to the government's assault on the rebel-held suburbs.

"We did not find any indication that the attack was meant to hit either civilians or a civilian building but that the USA forces had enough time and resources available, that they should have been able to take additional precautions that may have led to the air strike being called off or delayed", Pinheiro said.

However, continuous attacks from jihadist groups operating in Eastern Ghouta, such as Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Rahman Legion still prevent civilians from leaving the combat area, using them as human shields.

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He said Cavusoglu plans to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his visit to the United States. The report says "all available information" indicates a Russian plane carried out the November 13 airstrike that hit a market, surrounding houses and a police station run by Western-backed Syrian rebels in the town of Atarib, in northern Idlib. "The people sit with multiple families, with thousands of families in basement shelters", he said.

Pawel Krzysiek, head of communications for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, posted a video after the aid convoy returned, detailing what he and the other team members witnessed.

The United States has made its strongest accusation to date of Moscow's complicity in civilian deaths in Syria, saying Russian aircraft flew bombing missions over the besieged eastern Ghouta region in defiance of a United Nations ceasefire.

More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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Turkey sent troops into the Afrin enclave on January 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists.