More bombs fall on Syria's Ghouta after heaviest toll in years

BEIRUT, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Pro-government forces bombarded Syria's eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, killing at least 49 people, after the heaviest one-day death toll there in three years on Monday, a war monitoring group said.

Some 127 people were killed in air raids, rocket strikes and shelling of the area near Damascus on Monday, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

About 190 have died since the bombing intensified late on Sunday and 850 have been injured, it said.

The United Nations called for an immediate ceasefire in the area on Monday, saying the situation was "spiraling out of control" after an "extreme escalation in hostilities."

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, a coalition of international agencies that funds hospitals in Syria, said bombs had hit five hospitals in eastern Ghouta on Monday.

In Geneva, the U.N. children's fund issued a blank "statement" to express its outrage at the casualties among Syrian children, saying it had run out of words.

The violence in eastern Ghouta is part of a wider escalation in fighting on several fronts in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad pushes to end the seven-year rebellion against him.

16 PHOTOS
Fighting in Syria's Ghouta region
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Fighting in Syria's Ghouta region
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Smoke rises from buildings following bombardment on the village of Mesraba in the rebel-held besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed dozens of civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / Hamza Al-Ajweh (Photo credit should read HAMZA AL-AJWEH/AFP/Getty Images)
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Syrian Mohammed cries as he receives treatment at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna after being wounded with his mother in government air strikes on the town of Jisreen, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed dozens of civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / Ammar SULEIMAN (Photo credit should read AMMAR SULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian civil defence member carries an injured child rescued from between the rubble of buildings following government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A picture taken on February 17, 2018 shows a man walking next to another pushing a bicycle loaded with a carpet, down a rain-soaked street past damaged and destroyed buildings in the Syrian rebel-held enclave of Arbin in the Eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man stands amid the rubble of buildings following government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Syrian children cry at a make-shift hospital in Douma following air strikes on the Syrian village of Mesraba in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed dozens of civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / Hamza Al-Ajweh (Photo credit should read HAMZA AL-AJWEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian civilian inspects the damage following government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian civilians look at the rubble following government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man carries a child injured in government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - FEBRUARY 17: Children are seen at the debris of buildings after Assad Regime's airstrikes and ground attacks to Harasta town, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria on February 17, 2018. (Photo by Mouneb Taim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian man carries an infant injured in government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from buildings in a rebel-held area of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta following government shelling on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man carries an infant injured in government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
Children are inspect damages on a street in the besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria February 11, 2018.REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - FEBRUARY 17: Debris of buildings are seen after Assad Regime's airstrikes and ground attacks to Harasta town, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria on February 17, 2018. (Photo by Mouneb Taim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Mortars fired by rebels in eastern Ghouta landed in Damascus on Tuesday, causing two deaths and several injuries, Syrian state media reported. At least one person died from rebel mortar fire in the capital on Monday.

Lebanon's al-Manar television, which is aligned with Assad's ally Hezbollah, reported on Monday that the Syrian army was sending reinforcements towards eastern Ghouta after rebel assaults.

Assad's most powerful supporter, Russia, has been following a diplomatic track at the same time as the increase in fighting, resulting in the establishment of several "de-escalation zones."

Eastern Ghouta is in one of these areas, where violence is meant to be contained, but the de-escalation agreement does not include a former al Qaeda affiliate which has a small presence there.

Other insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, including Islamist factions, say the Syrian government and Russia are using the jihadist presence as a pretext to continue their bombardment.

Neither the Syrian military nor Russia commented on the renewed bombardment in eastern Ghouta, but they have often said they do not target civilians.

The Observatory said the intensified bombing was in preparation for a pro-government ground offensive against the enclave and that a rebel group there had foiled an attempt by Syria's army to advance overnight.

17 PHOTOS
Heartbreaking scenes from Eastern Ghouta, Syria
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Heartbreaking scenes from Eastern Ghouta, Syria
Six-month-old twins Safa and Marwa, who suffer from malnutrition, are seen at their home in the Hazzeh area, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh SEARCH "KHABIEH MALNUTRITION" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Two-and-a-half year old Hala al-Nufi, who suffers from a metabolic disorder which is worsening due to the siege and food shortages in the eastern Ghouta, reacts as she sits on a bed in the Saqba area, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh SEARCH "KHABIEH MALNUTRITION" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A Syrian shovels away debris from the higher floor of a building that was reportedly shelled by regime forces in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta town of Kafr Batna on the outskirts of Damascus on November 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULMONAM EASSA (Photo credit should read ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH AND INJURY An injured student lies on a bed at a field hospital in the town of Jisreen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TEMPLATE OUT
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 20: People inspect the debris of a building after Assad regime's warcrafts carried out airstrikes over residential areas of Kafr Batna town of the Eastern Ghouta region of Damascus in Syria on November 20, 2017. It is reported that 9 civilians, including 4 children were killed after the attack. (Photo by Anas Damashqy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH A wounded man is seen lying in Douma hospital after heavy shelling in the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, November 19, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TEMPLATE OUT
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH A wounded man is seen lying in Douma hospital after heavy shelling in the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, November 19, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A man walks on rubble after an airstrike in the rebel-held city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta Syria November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Two-and-a-half year old Hala al-Nufi, who suffers from a metabolic disorder which is worsening due to the siege and food shortages in the eastern Ghouta, is held by her uncle in the Saqba area, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh SEARCH "KHABIEH MALNUTRITION" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Children wait to be examined from Unicef health workers in Kafra Batna in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, Syria October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH AND INJURY An injured student lies on a bed at a field hospital in the town of Jisreen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TEMPLATE OUT
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH Injured students lie on beds at a field hospital in the town of Jisreen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Smoke rises at a damaged site in Ain Tarma, eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Children hold corncobs at Ain Tarma, eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A Syrian child is seen walking near International Red Cross vehicle in the rebel-held city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A Syrian woman walks past damaged buildings in Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
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(Reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by Andrew Roche)

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