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Shelling hits besieged Syrian Ghouta school gate after aid delivery

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Shelling killed around ten people, including five children at a school gate, in a besieged rebel enclave near Syria’s capital Damascus on Tuesday, a day after a U.N. aid delivery to the area, a war monitor said.

The shelling also injured 30 other people in the Eastern Ghouta area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based monitor said the ongoing shelling which began Tuesday morning hit the towns of Jisreen, Douma, Saqba, Mesraba, Harasta, Ain Terma, Hazza and Kafr Batna.

On Monday a United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy delivered aid to the towns of Kafr Batna and Saqba.

A tightening siege by government forces has pushed people to the verge of famine in the eastern suburbs, residents and aid workers said last week, bringing desperation to the only major rebel enclave near the Syrian capital.

Syrian state television on Tuesday said shells had also hit parts of government-held Damascus, injuring at least five people.

In July, Moscow and rebels in Eastern Ghouta signed a deal to make the area a “de-escalation zone”. The agreement raised hopes of open crossings and aid flows.

The aid organisation International Rescue Committee said on Monday the de-escalation zone agreements with rebel areas across Syria were failing to protect civilians.

“The safety of civilians has not improved with the establishment of these so-called de-escalation areas. With so many armed groups not covered by ceasefire agreements, we have even seen periods of increased aerial bombardment,” IRC’s Middle East Director of Public Affairs Tom Garofalo said.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington in Beirut; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Peter Graff