Aid Enters Syria s Besieged Eastern Ghouta After Strikes

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Syrian men run through an alley in the rebel-controlled town of Mesraba, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on November 27, 2017

A convoy carrying food and medical aid entered Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, the United Nations said, in a rare humanitarian delivery that comes after days of heavy bombardment.

A monitor said government air strikes continued Tuesday, hitting the town of Hammuriyeh shortly before the aid convoy entered the region, which has been under siege since 2013.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs tweeted that the joint convoy had "entered Nashabieh in besieged East Ghouta to deliver food, health and nutrition items for 7,200 people in need".

OCHA spokeswoman Linda Tom told AFP the convoy included "nutrition items and medications to treat malnutrition".

"And the health items include several medications for trauma treatments but not surgical items," she said.

"Our teams are not part of any medical evacuation," she added.

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in Syria, and is part of one of four so-called "de-escalation zones" in place across the country to reduce violence.

The implementation of the zone, agreed earlier this year between government allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, initially reduced violence in Eastern Ghouta.

But in recent weeks violence has increased considerably, with government air strikes and artillery fire across the region, and rebel fire from the area into Damascus.

Over the past two days, more than 40 civilians were killed in government strikes and shelling across Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based monitor said another three people were killed on Tuesday in regime air strikes on the town of Hammuriyeh in Eastern Ghouta.

The region has been under a tight government siege since 2013, causing food and medical shortages.

Humanitarian agencies have sounded the alarm on hundreds of cases of malnutrition in the area, and consistently pushed for better aid access.

But deliveries have continued to be rare, despite implementation of the "de-escalation zone".

Prior to Tuesday, the most recent aid delivery to the area was on November 12 to the town of Douma.