BEIRUT–Syrian government air strikes killed 31 civilians including 12 children in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region near Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said Syrian government air strikes and artillery hit the towns of Douma, Beit Sawa and Hammouriyeh in the rebel-controlled suburbs. The bombing also injured 65 people, the Britain-based war monitoring group said.
Assad’s Syrian government has repeatedly said it only targets terrorists.
It was the third day of intensified, unprovoked bombings on the region. On Monday, at least 28 people were killed, and on Sunday, a suspected chlorine attack left dozens of people suffering from breathing difficulties, reported The Associated Press.
Activists say the assault on Ghouta escalated after rebels refused to join peace talks hosted by Russia last month, reported AP.
The area, held by rebel groups the insurgent Islam Army and moderate rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, been under attack since the end of December as the government of President Bashar Assad struggles to bring it under control. Mortars have been launched by besieged groups into Damascus, also killing civilians.
Wednesday’s attack raises the number of people killed in the area since Jan. 29 to 384, including 94 children, reported AP.
The United Nations called on Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month.
U.N. representatives noted that Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel bastion near Damascus after almost seven years of war, had not received inter-agency aid since November.
The Assad regime’s army and its allies have besieged Eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under the control of rebel factions, since 2013.