The Russian military says more than 30,000 people have fled Syria's besieged east Ghouta and that the flow is continuing. The army said in a statement the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG were trying to create a "negative perception" of the Turkish military. Both have shown how foreign backers and their Syrian allies are reshaping the map after the defeat of IS's self-proclaimed caliphate a year ago.
The offensive has pushed thousands more to flee their homes into regime-controlled areas. Government forces have splintered Ghouta into three zones in one of the bloodiest offensives of the seven-year war. Residents came out in their thousands this week for the first time, from the southern pocket around Hammouriyeh town.
A Reuters witness and state-run media separately said thousands were leaving.
They reached a regime checkpoint in Adra district, where ambulances and large green buses waited to take them to temporary shelters.
Syrian state TV aired live footage showing hundreds of men, women and children carrying their belongings and marching from the town of Hamouria that was recently captured by Syrian troops. They carried blankets, bags, and suitcases on their shoulders, some of them weeping. Some elderly people hobbled on wooden sticks.More news: Simona Halep was unprofessional, claims Chris Evert
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The United Nations has said the exact number of people fleeing is not known nor are the destinations of all evacuees.
More than 30,000 people left on Saturday, the Interfax news agency cited a centre in Syria that Russia's defence ministry runs as saying.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said rebels later launched a counter-attack and regained parts of the town, killing 14 regime fighters.
Russian military spokesman Vladimir Zolotukhin said at least 11,000 people have fled the besieged area of eastern Ghouta in Syria on Saturday amid a brutal government offensive against the last rebel stronghold in the country. According to Anadolu Agency, the White Helmets civil-defence agency confirmed the death toll and said the attack occurred in the town of Kafr Batna. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.
Hevi Mustafa, a senior civic official, said people fled the main town to other Kurdish-held parts of the region and to government territory.
"What I can tell you also from [Thursday].is many people want to go out", said the official, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity. The Observatory said 16 people were killed in the hospital including two pregnant women.