By F. Brinley Bruton, Ammar Cheikh Omar and Lawahez Jabari
Death has a soundtrack in eastern Ghouta: The growing rumble of a jet ripping through the sky, punctuated by a low but loud thud. Then come screams and sirens.
It is being heard with alarming frequency in the besieged Syrian rebel enclave, near Damascus, where some 190 people have died since Sunday night according to U.K.-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
These have been the deadliest days for the area since 2015, the observatory said. NBC News was not able to independently confirm the group's account but it is in line with multiple local reports.
Syria's civil war may have been raging for close to seven years, but the recent bombing of civilian areas even pushed seasoned aid workers at the U.N. children's fund UNICEF to publish a rare “blank” statement.
In eastern Ghouta, Maram al-Dimasqi prayed that her little boys — Ahmad, 3, and Omar, 8 months — wouldn't be among the next to die.
"The warplanes are hitting us," the 24-year-old English teacher wrote via Skype from an underground bunker during a bombing raid. She held Ahmad on her lap but he could not stop crying as "huge explosions" shook the family.
"Shells are falling like rain. We are hiding in the corridor"
"He looks for his brother and kisses him," al-Dimasqi said. "Maybe it is the last kiss and the last time he sees him."
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Opposition activists say a major assault could be imminent for the enclave — the last rebel stronghold close to President Bashar al-Assad's seat of power — citing recent government reinforcements massing nearby.
“I'm writing these words and there are five planes above me, two helicopters, two Russian jets and a drone capturing everything," Firas Abdullah wrote from an underground shelter where he and more than 100 other residents were hiding.
“I can hear women and children's crying voices through their houses' windows,” said the opposition activist in the city of Douma in eastern Ghouta. “There is no way to escape, nowhere to hide.”
Monday's bombings, which killed close to 100 people, saw the use of warplanes, helicopter gunships and missiles as well as artillery, in a major escalation of violence, the Associated Press reported.
UNICEF took the extraordinary step of issuing a “blank” statement.
"No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones," the release from UNICEF's regional director Geert Cappalaere began.
Ten empty lines with quote marks indicating missing text, and an explanatory footnote, followed.
"UNICEF is issuing this blank statement. We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage," it said. "Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?"