Syrian troops approaching rebel-held air base in the north


The government offensive has displaced tens of thousands of people who fled toward areas close to the Turkish border. The U.N. delivered aid to an average 7.5 million people each month previous year.

"The suffering of the people of Syria knows no end", Zeid said in a statement about eastern Ghouta, where almost 400,000 people are living under government siege.

The offensive in the southern parts of province comes amid intense airstrikes and shelling that have killed 21 people since Sunday, according to the Observatory.

Russian Federation entered the civil war in 2015 to bolster government forces, helping them to secure a series of victories against the Islamic State group as well as mainstream rebels.

Attacks by Syrian and Russian forces on eastern Ghouta damaged or destroyed four schools and killed eight children in late October and early November 2017, according to a new report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

He said at least 85 civilians, including 21 women and 30 children, have been killed and at least 183 wounded in eastern Ghouta since December 31.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said on Wednesday that Syrian troops are fighting militants, including members of al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee, in different areas near Abu Zuhour.

Exploratory coalition talks between Germany's major parties end ahead of crucial decision
There still remains much resistance to it within the party's membership, however. SPD members will decide whether to proceed with formal talks on January 21.

The push into Idlib province, the largest remaining territory held by rebels in Syria, is the deepest by the government since it lost much of the area three years ago. The woman was so frightened, she initially left one of her children behind. "The fear affected our brains", said the mother, quoted by the IRC. The baby was unharmed, she added.

Rebel fighters recaptured a number of villages in the countryside of Idlib and Hama from regime forces.

The Aamaq media arm of the extremist Islamic State group reported Thursday that its fighters are clashing with Syrian troops on the eastern edges of Idlib, and released a video purporting to show four soldiers it claimed to have captured. The Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman said 16 insurgents were killed in the fighting but didn't provide a figure for government casulaties.

More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests. It says Western sanctions have crippled its economy.

Meanwhile, the United Nations official said he had detailed and open discussions with the Syrian government about the crisis and what more needs to be done to reduce the humanitarian suffering.

Turkish presidential sources said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone Thursday and told him that Moscow should stop Syrian attacks on its opposition in Idlib and eastern Ghouta near Damascus, if he wants peace negotiations to succeed.