A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on March 4, 2018, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) talking to reporters in Damascus. (AFP/SANA, HO)
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Assad said civilians would still have "the possibility" to evacuate the enclave, while denying there was any contradiction between a truce and ongoing fighting.His remarks came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces had advanced to within three kilometers (two miles) of Ghouta's main town, Douma, after retaking "more than 25 percent" of the enclave.The advance on the back of 15 days of air strikes, artillery fire and rocket attacks that are reported to have killed more than 650 civilians, sent hundreds into flight to western parts of the enclave.The regime's bombardment of the enclave killed at least six civilians on Sunday, said the Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group.The Observatory said some 2,000 civilians had fled regime shelling and clashes in eastern areas to western parts of the enclave.Apart from the civilian losses, at least 76 pro-regime fighters and 43 rebels from Jaish al-Islam have also been killed in clashes since February 25, it says.Encircled by regime-controlled territory and unable or unwilling to flee, Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 residents have in recent weeks suffered one of the most ferocious assaults of Syria's civil war.
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