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The Latest: UN: 45,000 Fled Homes in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

The Latest: UN: 45,000 Fled Homes in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 06:40 AM

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says 45,000 Syrians have left their homes in the besieged region of eastern Ghouta in recent days, amid a Syrian government-led offensive against the rebel-held area.

UNHCR says hundreds of thousands of people are "still trapped by fierce fighting and in dire need of aid."

Spokesman Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that UNHCR is not involved in the evacuation into government-controlled areas near Damascus, though its teams have been at "makeshift collective shelters."

He said "shortage of appropriate shelter is a major concern", and UNHCR has delivered 180,000 "core relief items" such as mattresses, blankets, winter clothes kits, solar lamps and kitchen sets.

The agency called for "full and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians" in the region — both inside and outside eastern Ghouta.

12:10 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the United States to "show respect" and "walk with" its NATO ally. His remarks are the latest criticism by the Turkish leader of Washington over its engagement with Syrian Kurdish militia.

Erdogan's comments on Tuesday came in reply to statements from the U.S. State Department expressing concern over Turkey's cross-border offensive in the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin, which Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces captured from the Syrian Kurdish militia on Sunday.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia as extension of outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

Addressing ruling party legislators in Ankara, Erdogan said: "On the one hand you say you're our strategic partner, and then you go collaborate with terrorists... If we're going to be strategic partners, you have to respect us and walk with us."

Erdogan said the Turkish operations in Afrin would continue "for a while longer" as Turkey's military and Turkish-backed opposition fighters clear the region of booby traps and other explosives.

The Turkish leader said 46 Turkish security force members and 269 Syrian opposition fighters were killed in the eight-week offensive.

11:05 a.m.

A Syrian war monitoring group says Islamic State militants have captured a largely vacant neighborhood in Damascus following intense fighting with pro-government forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says militants seized Qadam late on Monday, a week after Syrian rebels had surrendered the neighborhood to the government

The Observatory says 36 pro-government fighters were killed in clashes, and dozens more wounded or captured. It says the Syrian government has sent reinforcements into the area.

Earlier, IS claimed to have captured Qadam in a statement circulating on Twitter.

There was no immediate comment from the government.

The fighting in Qadam, which is south of Damascus, came as Syrian forces are focused on recapturing the rebel-held eastern Ghouta suburbs of the country's capital.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):12:25 p.m.The U.N. refugee agency says 45,000 Syrians have left their homes in the besieged region of eastern Ghouta in recent days, amid a Syrian government-led offensive against the rebel-held area.UNHCR says hundreds...
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2018-40-20
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 06:40 AM
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