GENEVA - Syrian government forces and their allies have killed at least 85 civilians since December 31 in stepped-up attacks against the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the UN human rights chief said on Wednesday.
Conditions in the enclave, the last major rebel-held zone near Damascus and where at least 390,000 civilians have been besieged for four years, amount to a humanitarian catastrophe, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said.
"Residential areas are being hit day and night by strikes from the ground and from the air, forcing civilians to hide in basements," he said in a statement.
Zeid said warring parties were obliged by law to distinguish between civilians and lawful military targets, and reports from Eastern Ghouta suggested of the attackers were flouting those principles, "raising concerns that war crimes may have been committed."
Among the dead civilians were 21 women and 30 children, Zeid said.