BEIRUT (REUTERS) - A new wave of bombs struck Syria's eastern Ghouta on Friday (Feb 23), which a witness in one town described as the worst yet, ahead of a UN Security Council vote to demand a 30-day ceasefire across the country.
For a sixth straight day, warplanes have pounded the densely populated agricultural pocket east of the capital, the last rebel bastion near Damascus. The escalation has killed at least 417 people and injured hundreds more, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says.
Medical charities say jets have hit more than a dozen hospitals, making it near impossible to treat the wounded.
The Britain-based Observatory said government warplanes and artillery hit Douma, Zamalka, and other towns across the enclave in the early hours on Friday. A witness in Douma, who asked not to be identified, said by phone the early morning bombing was the most intense so far.
The bombing of eastern Ghouta since Sunday night has been among the fiercest of the war, now entering its eighth year.
The Civil Defence in eastern Ghouta said its rescuers rushed to help the wounded after strikes on the town of Hammouriyeh on Friday morning. The emergency service, which operates in rebel territory, says it has pulled hundreds of people from under the rubble in recent days.
There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.
Damascus and Moscow say they only target militants, and that they aim to prevent rebels from shelling the capital with mortars. They have accused insurgents of holding residents as human shields in the Ghouta.
Nearly 400,000 people live in eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms that has been under government siege since 2013.
The UN envoy for Syria has pleaded for a truce to halt one of the worst air assaults of the seven-year war and prevent a "massacre".
The UN Security Council was considering a resolution, which Kuwait and Sweden drafted, demanding "a cessation of hostilities throughout Syria for all military operations" for 30 days to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
The vote is set to take place on Friday. The resolution does not cover the groups Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Al Qaeda and the Nusra Front, which Moscow and Damascus say they have targeted in eastern Ghouta.