Situation of Syria: Struggle to take Eastern Ghouta Back From Rebels
Situation of Syria: Struggle to take Eastern Ghouta Back From Rebels: As the United States, Britain and France step up pressure on Damascus and Moscow to call off the attack, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that his forces must continue with their campaign to retake the occupied area of Eastern Ghouta from rebels.
While justifying his statement, Assad told journalists on national television that the majority the of people in Eastern Ghouta want the area cleansed of all terrorist elements present there, hence the operation will continue.
Last week Russia announced a daily five-hour “humanitarian pause” in Eastern Ghouta but even then the situation remained intense on ground while Russian air strikes on Eastern Ghouta killed 34 civilians including 11 children on Sunday. In the last 15 days of airstrikes, artillery fire and rocket attacks are reported to have killed more than 650 civilians and sent hundreds into flight to western parts of the enclave. Military sources told state media that with the support of Russian warplanes, the Syrian military has advanced on several fronts, retaking control of farms and villages.
An AFP correspondent inside Eastern Ghouta saw hundreds of civilians on Sunday fleeing from the town of Beit Sawa in the southeast of the enclave. 2,000 civilians had fled regime shelling and clashes in eastern areas to western parts of the enclave. Eastern Ghouta’s 400,000 residents have suffered one of the most ferocious attacks of Syria’s civil war. Since 2013, they had already been facing severe shortages of food and medicine.
US President Donald Trump and British PM Theresa May condemned the attacks and said that Russia and Syria were responsible for “heart-breaking human suffering” in Eastern Ghouta. Russia has killed “innocent civilians under the false auspices of counter terrorism operations.”
It is expected that a convoy of “46 truckloads of health and nutrition supplies, along with food for 27,500 people in need” would reach the maltreated territory on Monday as per the statement from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
As Syria’s conflict approaches its 70th anniversary this month, Bashar-ul-Assad’s forces backed by Russia have recaptured most of the territory that once was occupied by the rebels.