GHOUTA, Syria - Since December 31, Syrian government forces and allies are said to have killed at least 83 civilians in the Eastern Ghouta region.
According to the UN human rights chief, Syrian government forces and their allies have killed at least 85 civilians since December 31 in stepped-up attacks against the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Wednesday that conditions in the enclave amount to a humanitarian catastrophe.
The region is the last major rebel-held zone near Damascus that currently houses at least 390,000 civilians and has been besieged for four years.
Al-Hussein said in a statement, "Residential areas are being hit day and night by strikes from the ground and from the air, forcing civilians to hide in basements."
He added that warring parties were obliged by law to distinguish between civilians and lawful military targets.
Meanwhile, reports from Eastern Ghouta suggested that the attackers were flouting those principles, "raising concerns that war crimes may have been committed."
The UN official said that the dead civilians included 21 women and 30 children.
In the operation in recent months, Syrian government forces were reportedly backed by Russian strikes and have led to an escalation of military operations against Eastern Ghouta.