Twelve members of the Failaq al Rahman opposition group in eastern Ghouta, including two of its commanders, have been killed according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

This photo released on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, by the Syrian Civil Defence group known as the White Helmets, shows their members removing a body after air strikes and shelling by Syrian regime forces, in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.
This photo released on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, by the Syrian Civil Defence group known as the White Helmets, shows their members removing a body after air strikes and shelling by Syrian regime forces, in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. ( AP )

An air strike killed 12 members of the Failaq al Rahman opposition group in eastern Ghouta, including two of its commanders, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to the regime-controlled neighbourhoods on the east side of Damascus, which has often come under opposition mortar attacks.

The Observatory said the strike took place on Tuesday evening and that, based on activist reports, it was conducted by Russia.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Britain-based war monitor, named the two commanders as Abu Mohammad Saif and Abu Mohammed Jobar. 

The group's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Civil Defence search-and-rescue group in Syria, also known as the White Helmets, on Wednesday released video showing mass destruction in eastern Ghouta caused by Syrian regime forces shelling.

The video shows debris, bodies on the ground, and people panicking as they moved through the destruction after their neighbourhood was bombed.

Some 400,000 people are believed to be living there, trapped under relentless air and ground bombardment and a crippling years-long siege.

More than 1,100 people have been killed since the large-scale regime offensive began on February 18.

As TRT World 's Melinda Nucifora reports, the new civilian convoy left the enclave recently.

Evacuations 

Russia's military said on Wednesday that a further 49 people had left eastern Ghouta district after a humanitarian corridor opened there, RIA news agency said, citing Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko.

Yevtushenko, who is the head of the Russian peace and reconciliation centre in Syria, said this brought the total to over 350 refugees. 

Civilians in need of medical treatment left the eastern Ghouta enclave for the second straight day on Wednesday under a medical evacuation agreement, an opposition official said.

Yasser Delwan, head of political affairs with the Jaish al Islam opposition faction in eastern Ghouta, said around 25 patients had left the enclave on Wednesday. 

"So far the agreement is going well," Delwan added.

Syrian regime TV said a new batch of residents crossed out of the opposition-held area through the Al Wafideen corridor, although it did not specify whether the evacuations were for medical reasons.

Over 300 people have left eastern Ghouta district since a humanitarian corridor opened there, RIA news agency cited a representative for Russia's ceasefire monitoring centre in Syria as saying on Wednesday.

"Since the humanitarian corridor started working in the region of eastern Ghouta, more than 300 people have left, the majority of these people left in the last few days," RIA quoted Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin as saying. 

A total of 146 civilians were evacuated from the opposition-held areas of eastern Ghouta, a suburb in the Syrian capital of Damascus, on Tuesday.

The evacuated civilians included the wounded, children, women and seniors.

They were divided into three groups before departing from the enclave and heading to the regime-controlled Wafidin area northeast of Damascus through a humanitarian corridor set up between Wafidin and the opposition-held Douma district in eastern Ghouta.

It was reported by the regime news agency in Syria that a total of 21 children received the Polio vaccine after they arrived at the temporary shelter.

More civilians to be evacuated

According to officials from the UN, the civilians who left the opposition-controlled area on Tuesday were taken to two temporary shelters, and some of them are planning to move to Damascus to live with their family members.

Meanwhile, UN officials have called for more civilians, who are still in eastern Ghouta, to leave the danger zone as soon as possible.

Tuesday's evacuees represented the first major civilian convoy to leave that area since the corridor was set up 14 days ago for the evacuation of civilians after a Russian-backed humanitarian pause went into force.

More groups of civilians are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.

The regime has long since called for the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ghouta and has accused the opposition of hindering the process.

Four major opposition groups are currently positioned inside eastern Ghouta: namely the Islam Army, Failaq al Rahman, Ahrar al Sham and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Opposition groups say the Syrian regime and its key ally Russia have been bombing residential areas in the enclave under the pretext of fighting "terror groups".

Source: TRTWorld and agencies