March 12, 2018 / 4:27 PM / in 9 months

Russia defends Syrian government Ghouta offensive at U.N.

People hold a warning leaflet dropped by plane entitled "Keep yourself and your family aware" in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 11, 2018. REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that the Syrian government has “every right to try and remove the threat to the safety of its citizens” and described the Damascus suburbs as a “hotbed of terrorism.”

The Syrian army’s onslaught in eastern Ghouta, backed by air and artillery strikes, has killed about 1,160 people since Feb. 18, a war monitor said, as President Bashar al-Assad seeks to crush the last big rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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