President Vladimir Putin has ordered that the Syrian government pause their attack on a rebel-held part of Syria every day for five hours to allow civilians to escape.
Starting tomorrow, a “humanitarian corridor” will allow civilians to leave the area of Eastern Ghouta, which has been hit hard by government forces in recent days, according to Tass news agency.
The rebel-held area, near the capital of Damascus, is where nearly 400,000 civilians are trapped.
It has been pounded by government forces and allies – including Russia – in a relentless attack since February 19.
In just over a week, 560 people have been killed, BBC reported.
Amnesty International has said the offensive amounts to “flagrant war crimes”.
“The Syrian government, with the backing of Russia, is intentionally targeting its own people in Eastern Ghouta,” they said.
“People have not only been suffering a cruel siege for the past six years, they are now trapped in a daily barrage of attacks that are deliberately killing and maiming them, and that constitute flagrant war crimes.”
Moscow has said it is concerned over the situation, claiming the rebels in the area hold citizens hostage and may use chemical weapons.
On Sunday, there were reports that the government had used chemical weapons.
We confirm that 16 patients, including 6 children & 4 women, suffering from symptoms indicative to exposure to chemical compounds were treated at a SAMS-supported hospital in #EastGhouta. This attack marks the 197th use of chemical weapons in #Syria since 2011 & the 7th in 2018. pic.twitter.com/xpcOhuAvFS
— SAMS (@sams_usa) February 25, 2018
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons, despite organisations claiming they had.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the reports were “fake news”.
Experts from the UN and the Organisations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say government forces used chemical weapons between 2014 and 2015, as well as Sarin last year.