Syrian regime kills 23 more civilians in Eastern Ghouta

Glen Norman
March 5, 2018

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday his forces must push on with their campaign to retake the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta from rebels, despite mounting global calls to end the bloodshed.

It went on to accuse Moscow of ignoring the conditions of the 30-day humanitarian pause in Syria introduced by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), claiming it had violated the cessation of hostilities "to kill innocent civilians under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations", in a strongly-worded statement.

Syria's regime has seized control of over a quarter of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on the edge of Damascus after two weeks of devastating bombardment, sending hundreds of civilians into flight, a monitor said on Sunday (March 4).

A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad said fighting was underway in al-Shayfouniya, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, no civilians have exited through a humanitarian corridor set up by Russian Federation and the Syrian government almost a week ago.

Under growing global pressure to end the bloodshed, government backer Russian Federation last week announced daily five-hour "humanitarian pauses" in the enclave.


"Therefore we must continue with the operation and in parallel open the way for civilians to leave", he said.

The rebels had fortified positions to confront the attacking forces once again, he said.

The multi-sided Syrian war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people since 2011, has escalated on several fronts this year, as the collapse of Islamic State has given way to other conflicts between Syrian and global parties. "The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce", Mr Assad said in broadcast comments to journalists.

Terrorists are using Eastern Ghouta as a launchpad for near-daily attacks on the capital.

Rebel forces responded Sunday by launching a counteroffensive.

"MORE FIGHTING, MORE DEATH " With no sign of meaningful Western pressure to halt the offensive, eastern Ghouta appears on course to meet the same fate as other rebel areas retaken by Assad, such as eastern Aleppo, which he recovered using similar tactics in 2016.


The multi-sided war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people since 2011, has escalated on several fronts this year, as the collapse of Islamic State has given way to other conflicts between Syrian and global parties.

A spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, one of the main insurgent groups in Ghouta, said that the government's "scorched earth policy" forced rebel fighters to retreat and regroup.

Regime forces seized several districts including Al-Nashabiyeh and Otaya, east of Damascus, and "eradicated terrorist groups" that had controlled the area.

Neemat Mohsen, who heads the local women's office in Saqba, another town in Eastern Ghouta, said in some shelters 350 or more people live with no running water and no electricity.

Almost 400,000 people are believed to be trapped in Eastern Ghouta, an opposition-held suburb that has been under siege since 2013.

"Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed", he said in a statement.


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