Syria war: United Nations calls for truce as government pounds rebel enclave

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At least 35 civilians were killed and dozens were injured by Syrian regime attacks in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, Syrian civil defence forces said on Tuesday.

The halt would "enable the delivery of humanitarian aid and services, evacuation of the critically sick and wounded, and alleviation of people's suffering", the statement said.

The death toll there rose from an initial report of 16 to around 70, including 18 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

The Syrian government acknowledges in July 2012 that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population.

Reports of air strikes hitting at least three hospitals in the past 48 hours "make a mockery of so-called 'de-escalation zones", he said.

Russian Federation accepted the accusation against the ISIL militants but rejected the experts' findings on the Syrian government as unproven and demanded major changes in the way the expert team from the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, operates.

Pinheiro said the attacks on Eastern Ghouta involve "the worldwide crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population".

United Kingdom services sector undershoots expectations in January hinting at slowing wider economy
A number above 50 indicates expansion, while a figure below that points to contraction. The headline PMI rose from 49.9 in December to 50.2 in January this year.

France last month blacklisted companies and nationals it said had links to Syria's alleged chemical weapons programme.

"We will come to Manbij to deliver the land to its true owners", Erdogan told a session of parliament, referring to Arab occupants of Manbij who say they were driven out of the town by the Kurdish YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The YPG has been an important USA ally in the war against Islamic State militants, but Ankara sees it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and Washington.

The conflict has been further complicated since January by a major offensive that neighbouring Turkey launched against the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin.

The air defenses had been sent to frontlines with militants in rural areas of Aleppo and Idlib.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has recently deployed air defense missiles to the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, following the Turkish military's incursion in both governorates, the Reuters News Agency quoted a military commander on Monday.