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New Raids Kill 13 in Syria Suburb      02/22 06:15

   BEIRUT (AP) -- A new wave of deadly Syrian government bombardment in the 
opposition-held eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus on Thursday killed 13 
people as world leaders and aid groups called for an end to the carnage that 
has killed hundreds of people in recent days.

   The airstrikes on rebel towns in the suburb known as eastern Ghouta were 
reported by several local opposition activist groups and a Britain-based war 
monitor. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, that works 
in opposition-held areas said its paramedics rushed to several areas after the 
shelling.

   Syrian government forces have been pounding the area for days, hitting 
residential buildings, hospitals and infrastructure and overwhelming medics and 
rescue workers. The bombardment has forced many among the nearly 400,000 
residents to sleep in basements and makeshift shelters, and has overwhelmed 
rescue workers who have spent days digging out survivors from the wreckage of 
bombed out buildings.

   U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate suspension 
of "all war activities" in the area where he said people are living "in hell on 
earth."

   German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Thursday for the European Union to 
step up pressure on Russia and Iran to end the violence in Syria.

   "The regime is not fighting against terrorists, but against its own people, 
killing children, destroying hospitals, and this is a massacre to be 
condemned," she told Parliament.

   Besides President Bashar Assad, Merkel said "Iran and Russia have a 
particular responsibility" as they are both supporting the government forces. 
She said Germany's foreign minister plans to talk directly with his Russian 
counterpart and called for other EU nations to also do what they can.

   "We need to do everything in our power to put an end to this massacre," she 
said.

   Russian news reports, meanwhile, said Moscow has beefed up its forces in 
Syria with several warplanes, including its latest fighter jets.

   News outlets on Thursday carried pictures of a pair of Su-57 fighters 
heading to land at Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia 
that serves as the main hub for Russian operations in Syria. An early warning 
A-50 plane, four Su-35 fighters and four Su-25 ground attack jets also arrived 
at the base Wednesday.

   The Kremlin on Thursday wouldn't comment on the reports, referring the 
questions to the military that remained mum about the deployment.

   Russia has rejected allegations it was responsible for the mounting civilian 
casualties in eastern Ghouta.


(KA)

 
 
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