BEIRUT (Reuters) - Russia proposed a two-day ceasefire on Monday in the last major rebel stronghold near the Syrian capital Damascus, where warplanes killed at least 41 people in two days of air strikes as Russian-backed government forces tried to capture the area. A man stands on the rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the rebel-held town of Mesraba in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, November 26, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam KhabiehThe Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring body, said 18 people were killed by bombing on Monday and 23 on Sunday. At least 147 have been killed by air strikes and shelling since the Syrian army, with Russian air power, began the offensive to take the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta nearly two weeks ago. The area of densely-populated agricultural land is the last major territory near the capital still held by rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Across Syria, fighters have been driven out of most towns and cities in the past two years since Russia joined the war on Assad’s behalf. People gather at a damaged site after an airstrike in the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam KhabiehEastern Ghouta is also one of several “de-escalation zones” across western Syria where Russia has brokered deals to ease fighting. Russia proposed imposing a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone for Tuesday and Wednesday, Interfax news agency reported, quoting the Defence Ministry. A man is seen at a damaged site after an airstrike in the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh“Such measures will ease tension in the western part of the de-escalation zone,” General-Lieutenant Sergei Kuralenko, in charge of Russia’s ceasefire monitoring centre in Syria, was quoted as saying. The enclave has been besieged by Assad forces since 2012, but the siege has become far worse in recent months since routes used to smuggle in food were shut. Residents are so short of food that they are eating trash, fainting from hunger and forcing their children to eat on alternate days, the U.N. World Food Programme said in a report last week. On Monday, 13 shells hit government-held Damascus and its surrounding areas, Syrian state media SANA reported. Four people were injured from a shell that hit the capital on Sunday, SANA said.
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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2017 00:48:13 IST