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23 civilians killed near Damascus, mainly from Russian air strike
12 January 2018, 10:49 | Erica Roy
Syria: 30 civilians killed in air strikes near Damascus
Attacks on Eastern Ghouta, which lies on the outskirts of Damascus, the capital, have been frequent in recent days and are believed to be part of the Syrian government's assault on rebel-held positions in the area.
The war has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since it began in 2011 with the brutal regime repression of anti-government protests by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "As a result of the shelling, two servicemen were killed", the ministry said. At least five civilians were killed and many others wounded on the same day in the rebel enclave.
Eastern Ghouta has been targeted despite being among a handful of so-called de-escalation zones in Syria, where military activity is prohibited under a ceasefire agreement endorsed by Turkey, Russia, and Iran earlier this year.
The army has been gaining ground in Idlib and the adjoining eastern Hama countryside, with scores of villages seized from rebels mainly belonging to Tahrir al Sham, a coalition of jihadist groups with mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions also engaged in the battles.
"Kommersant's report on the alleged "destruction" of seven Russian military aircraft at Khmeimim Airbase is fake", the ministry said in a statement according to Russia Today website.
"On December 31, 2017, at nightfall, the Hmeymim airfield came under a sudden mortar fire from a mobile militant subversive group".
Two Russian soldiers stationed at the Syrian base in Hmeymim were killed following an attack on December 31, the Russian Defence Ministry said, cited by TASS news agency.
The ministry had denied the helicopter crashed following an attack.
"The Russian air force in Syria is combat-ready and continues to fulfill all intended tasks", the statement added.
Last month, Russian Federation announced it was withdrawing the bulk of its forces from Syria after it had been fully liberated of Daesh elements.
Three battalions of military police and officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation would remain in Syria , as well as two Russian bases, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on a subsequent trip.
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