Syrian government gains more ground in rebel-held eastern Ghouta

Cheryl Sanders
March 12, 2018

As the Syrian army pushes deeper into Eastern Ghouta under cover of a hammering bombardment, the 400,000 civilians the United Nations says live in the enclave have been crowded in dark basements to cower from the ceaseless bombing.

Recapturing the enclave would mark one of the most significant victories for President Bashar Assad in the seven-year civil war. More than 1,000 people have been killed since the large-scale government offensive began on February 18.

Rebels in Syria's battered Eastern Ghouta shot dead a civilian Monday taking part in a protest calling for a deal to end regime attacks on the enclave, a Britain-based monitor said.

"Civilians across Eastern Ghouta are too afraid to leave the cellars and do not know anything about what is happening over ground other than through the sound of bombs that have continued to pound the area for weeks", said Fawal.

The military's advances have apparently also increased the fear and confusion among residents and armed groups inside the territory.

There were further talks on Sunday and Monday, after which Jaysh al-Islam announced that "an agreement was reached with the Russian side through the United Nations for a humanitarian medical evacuation of the wounded for treatment outside of Eastern Ghouta".

The Observatory, which tracks death tolls using a network of contacts inside Syria, said it had identified more than 350,000 of those killed, and the remainder were cases where it knew deaths had occurred but did not know the victims' names. A statement issued by Free Syrian Army factions there late on Saturday said they had taken a decision not to accept a surrender and negotiated withdrawal.

At least 1,162 civilians have been killed, including 241 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said people are fleeing out of fear that Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters might commit atrocities against the Kurds and minorities in the town.

He says Turkish troops have destroyed water and power stations that supply the town of Afrin, making it hard for people to stay. He blamed Russian Federation and Turkey for what he called "war crimes that are being committed in Afrin".

Meanwhile, Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that government forces had evacuated "dozens of civilians" from Misraba to shelters in government-held areas, according to AFP.

Turkey launched a military offensive against the US -backed Syrian Kurdish militia known as YPG, to clear its fighters from the enclave of Afrin. Ankara considers the YPG a terror organization linked to its own Kurdish insurgency, but France backs the fighters in the war against the Islamic State group.

Other reports by iNewsToday