Thousands flee Ghouta rebel enclave as Syria army advances: AFP


Adra (Syria) (AFP)

Thousands escaped Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta into government-held territory on Thursday, AFP correspondents on both sides said, the largest numbers since the regime assault on the enclave began.

Residents, most of them women and children, were seen fleeing on foot, in cars and on motorcycles via the town of Hammuriyeh, where the Syrian army had opened a corridor after a late-night advance.

They reached a regime-held checkpoint in Adra with stuffed duffle bags and suitcases.

Syrian troops have seized more than 60 percent of Ghouta from rebel groups since launching their assault nearly a month ago, and have split remaining opposition territory into three pockets.

Late Wednesday, they carried out a fierce bombardment and ground assault on the southern pocket, seizing the eastern half of the town of Hammuriyeh, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

That allowed them to open up a corridor for residents to leave into regime-held territory.

More than 3,000 people fled on Thursday, the Britain-based Observatory said, in "the largest displacement since the beginning of the assault on Ghouta."