Syrian forces have captured the largest town in Eastern Ghouta, effectively splitting the rebel-held enclave in three.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said government forces had captured the town of Mesraba, which lies 10km east of Damascus, and had begun advancing into its surrounding farms.

The UK-based monitor told newsmen that Eastern Ghouta had been divided into three parts – Douma and its surroundings, Harasta in the west, and the rest of the towns further south.

Syrian state television reported earlier that army operations were intensifying in the central part of Eastern Ghouta, with opposition activists also reporting that roads connecting the towns were covered by army fire.

The government’s latest offensive on Eastern Ghouta, which began on February 18, has seen 1,002 people killed, according to the Observatory. The figure includes 215 children and 145 women.

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