NEW air strikes launched by Russian and Syrian government forces on a rebel-held region east of Damascus have killed at least eight people, opposition activists said.

The strikes are part of an ongoing aerial campaign which has killed dozens of civilians in the besieged area over the past few days. Around 60 civilians have died so far overwhelming rescue workers and prompting calls for an immediate ceasefire in order to deliver critical medical care.

The opposition’s civil defence workers, known as the White Helmets, said eight civilians were killed and many more were wounded after warplanes targeted the town of Hamouriyeh, causing a building to collapse. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the deaths, saying it raised the number of people killed in the area since January 29 to 384, including 94 children.

The Ghouta region, home to nearly 400,000 people trapped by the violence, has been under intense attack since the end of December as the government of President Bashar Assad struggles to bring it under control.

The campaign by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, has also battered the province of Idlib, the largest area under opposition control. The offensive hit hospitals and residential buildings.

The situation intensified after militants shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet over the weekend.