A top UN aid official appealed to the Syrian government and its Russian backers for a cessation of hostilities in eastern Ghouta on Thursday when a second convoy with desperately needed aid was postponed after government forces split the enclave in two, creating an evolving, unpredictable situation on the ground. Jan Egeland says it is "impossible" to deliver aid to the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus amid the current fighting, which he describes as the worst ever. "I'm very worried for a repeat of very many of the bad things we saw in the final days of the battle of Aleppo but to some extent this is worse," he tells the AP.
"It is impossible to cross into the frontline and to go in to help desperate civilians, women, and children that we know are on the starvation point," Egeland says. The government, determined to wrest the eastern Ghouta suburbs from rebel control after seven years of war, has intensified the shelling and bombardment to clear the way for its troops to advance on the ground. Doctors and rescue workers say at least 90 people were killed in "insane" violence early Thursday, including suspected chemical attacks, the Guardian reports. "To all of those outside Ghouta, living in peace and comfort ... I wish to tell you that children, women, the elderly and infants are all dying today in full view of the world," one rescue worker says. (Read more Syria stories.)