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’46 killed’ in new air strikes on Ghouta

The attacks came despite a Russian-ordered ceasefire in the rebel-held enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.

Russian and Syrian government air strikes on a town in the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta have killed 46 people, monitoring groups said, despite a Russian-ordered ceasefire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the town of Kafr Batna, outside Damascus, was hit with cluster munitions, napalm-like incendiary weapons, and conventional explosives on Friday.

Government forces are advancing on towns inside the rebel-held enclave, prompting a massive exodus of civilians.

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The Syrian Red Crescent treats civilians at an army checkpoint (Sana/AP)

A medical charity supporting hospitals in the Ghouta region, the Syrian American Medical Society, said doctors in Kafr Batna are treating patients for severe burn wounds.

The charity says it recorded 40 casualties on Friday.

The Syrian Civil Defence search-and-rescue group said it has identified 42 bodies so far, and it expects the death toll to rise.

The assault came after the Russian military and the Syrian government extended a ceasefire in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus for as long as it takes to allow all civilians to leave the area, according to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov said the ceasefire would be extended “until all (civilians) leave” eastern Ghouta.

The Russian defence ministry said 2,000 people had left by early morning on Friday.

Thursday saw the largest single-day exodus of civilians in Syria’s civil war. Tens of thousands emerged from Hamouria and other opposition towns to escape the onslaught.

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