A picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows smoke plumes rising following Syrian regime strikes on the village of Mesraba in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. (AFP / STRINGER)
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Government forces carried out punishing airstrikes against an opposition-held suburb of Damascus Wednesday, seeking to divide the besieged enclave in two and further squeeze rebels and tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside, state-run media and opposition activists reported.The government, determined to wrest the suburbs from the control of rebels after seven years of war, has resorted to extreme levels of shelling and bombardment to clear the way for its troops to advance on the ground.In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein denounced claims by Syria's government that it's doing all it can to protect civilians as "frankly ridiculous," while its forces lead "indiscriminate, brutal attacks" in eastern Ghouta.Turkey called on the United States to prevent U.S.-backed Kurdish forces from sending fighters deployed against the Islamic State group to shore up Kurdish forces battling a Turkish offensive in an enclave in northwest Syria.Turkey sent troops into the Afrin enclave on Jan. 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists.
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