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Syrian government forces have driven a corridor through the rebel-held Ostghuta. The US warned against the use of poison gas.

Syria: Ostghuta divided by attacks

Syrian government forces have driven a corridor through the rebel-held Ostghuta. The US warned against the use of poison gas.

Syria: Ostghuta divided by attacks

The battles between Syrian army and insurgents in Ostghuta do not end: There are heavy fighting on several fronts, Syrian Human Rights Observatory, based in London, shared. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops now isolated two cities of Harasta and Duma, splitting up enclave, which is one of last rebel-controlled areas in country. The artillery shelling of government forces was accompanied by continuous air attacks, it continued.

According to observatory, more than 1,100 civilians have now been killed in offensive launched three weeks ago. The enclave of Ostghuta had fallen into three parts. The state television station reported capture of city of Misraba, which is at last link between norrn and sourn half of rebel-controlled area.

After a small group of insurgents left region on Friday night, or rebel representatives shared desire to continue fighting. The observatory's reports are often difficult to verify because of unclear situation in country, but have often proved to be true in past.

Ostghuta near capital city of Damascus is one of last areas in Syria that is still controlled by rebels. The Syrian soldiers have been attacking region for weeks. According to UN estimates, about 400,000 people are included in sieged enclave. It lacks food, medicines and drinking water. As a result of fighting, aid deliveries failed repeatedly. The Syrian government and Allied Russia, on offensive, want to stop bombardment of Damascus by insurgents.

"A lot of reports" on use of poison gas

In recent weeks, rebels have already lost more than half of enclave to Assad's troops. Local doctors spoke of chlorine odor and choking symptoms. The Syrian government, however, rejects accusations of having used fire bombs or chemical weapons. There was information that insurgents wanted to fake a chemical attack to discredit army.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Assad to use poison gas in progress of fighting. On a trip to Oman, Mattis said this would be "very unwise" by Syrian government. The Minister avoided threatening retaliation on part of United States. However, Mattis pointed out that US president Donald Trump had "full political leeway" for any decision he deems appropriate. At same time, Republican recalled US missile attack on a Syrian Fliegerhorst after an attack with nerve gas sarin. There are already "a lot of reports" about use of chlorine gas, added Mattis. However, re is no sound evidence.

Fierce fights also around Afrin

In northwest of Syria, Turkish army, according to Observatory, reached outskirts of Kurdish militia-controlled city of Afrin. In norast of city re had been "fierce battles with air attacks and artillery bombardment", said ir director Rami Abdel Rahman. The region around Afrin has been controlled by Kurdish People's Defence Units (YPG) since 2012.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a televised speech in sourn city of Mersin, according to Afrin, cities of Manbidsch, Kobane, Tal Abjad, Ras al-Ain and Kamischli were also "cleaned by terrorists". The YPG had recaptured Kobane of Dschihadistenmiliz "Islamic State" (IS) in January 2015 in a symbolic four-month battle.

Ankara designates YPG as a terrorist organization, as well as Kurdistan PKK of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is allied and banned in Turkey. The YPG are allied with US in fight against IS. Since both countries are also partners in NATO, Turkish offensive provides for irritation between Washington and Ankara.

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