Battle for Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta rages on as civilian toll rises

World Today

Basements in the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta are overflowing as residents seek shelter from the non-stop bombing and shelling. Despite a U.N. ceasefire, there have been precious few lulls in the attacks by Syrian government troops and their Russian allies.

CGTN’s Alaa Ebrahim reports.

The Al-Wafideen crossing is one of two humanitarian corridors that the Syrian government has set up in coordination with Russia. The aim is to allow civilians out of Eastern Ghouta.

The rebel-held suburb of Damascus has been the target of a relentless military campaign since February 18. Since then, the Syrian Army has taken control over roughly half of the area, dividing it into three separate parts. The army said it could force the rebels to allow civilians to evacuate, although not if the rebels use civilians as human shields, as the government claims.

Syrian men check the damage following Syrian government shelling on the town of Douma in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 10, 2018.
Syrian regime forces cut off the largest town in Eastern Ghouta from the rest of the opposition enclave in a blow to beleaguered rebels defending their last bastion near Damascus. Government troops and allied militia have recaptured half of the besieged region in a blistering assault launched on February 18 that has left nearly 1,000 civilians dead and prompted global outcry.

The rebels said three weeks of air and artillery attacks have left more than 1,000 civilians dead inside Ghouta. On Monday, the largest rebel faction in Ghouta, the Army of Islam,  said in a statement that it reached an agreement with Russia – through the UN – to allow the sick and wounded out of Eastern Ghouta. But, government sources tell CGTN the deal is not yet final.

The battle for Eastern Ghouta is becoming the largest conflict in the nearly eight-year-old civil war. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the death toll for both sides of the war at over 350,000. Many experts and journalists inside Syria said the number could be much higher.