A Syrian civil defense volunteer carries children as he helps them try to flee their homes in Eastern Ghouta.
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Thousands of civilians have fled advances by Syrian government forces in Eastern Ghouta in the last two days, an activist group and a resident said, as Damascus and allied militias captured a number of villages and towns in the largest advance since a wide-scale operation began last month.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had seized around a quarter of Ghouta in a ground assault that began on Feb. 27, building on a ferocious air and artillery bombardment that has killed hundreds. Assad vowed Sunday to continue the Ghouta operation and in parallel civilians would be allowed to leave the rebel-held area.Rebel officials have consistently denied stopping civilians from leaving.The Observatory said the territory captured so far by the Syrian army was mostly farmland and the big towns of Ghouta were still in rebel hands.
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