March 15 (UPI) -- Thousands of people fled the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Thursday as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military forces advanced on the area.
More than 12,500 fled the area as regime forces took control of the city of Hamoryah following a night of airstrikes and shelling by regime forces and Russian allies, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The sudden migration was the largest mass displacement in Eastern Ghouta since regime forces and their allies first began their siege on the rebel-held area in 2013.
The United Nations children's agency said it assisted families and children at three shelters in the suburbs of Syria's capital city Damascus.
Faylaq al Rahman, one of Eastern Ghouta's major rebel groups, withdrew from Hamoryah as the Syrian military approached.
On Saturday, Syrian forces captured Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta.
The enclave, which his home to 400,000 people, has been divided into three parts: Douma and its surroundings, Harasta in the west, and the rest of the towns further south.