Regime blockades in Damascus intensify, clashes reported in Homs
Residents of the rebel-held East Ghouta area outside Damascus worry that the regime's blockade will soon make their living situation comparable to areas like Moadamiya, where a yearlong blockade has led to starvation, fatal illness and deplorable humanitarian conditions (Courtesy of Violations Documentation Center in Syria)
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The Syrian army sealed the last smuggling routes into the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus, according to Reuters.
The regime has thus far been successful in preventing rebels from advancing on the capital, but has not managed to seize the rebel strongholds already gained in the outskirts of the capital.
Analysts suggest that regime forces are intensifying efforts "to try and starve out" the rebels from the areas as a result. In the rebel-stronghold Eastern Ghouta area, for example, the regime forces have reportedly increased blockade efforts over a week ago, preventing food and supplies from entering the area.
Ghouta residents worry that the developing conditions will soon be comparable to those in the malnourished suburbs west of the capital, where food deprivation has resulted in several cases of death and illness.
"Last week, the army managed to seal the last smuggling route from Damascus that we used to get food and flour. If we don't find a new opening, we'll be destroyed," said an activist, speaking by Skype.
Recent clashes in the village of Mleiha has closed the only other possible route to obtain food and fuel, according to the activist. Aid works have also struggled to access the areas to provide supplies and medical treatment due to blockades and clashes between regime and rebel forces.
In other parts of Syria Wednesday, rebel groups in Homs attempted to capture a major weapons depot, according to AFP.
The Al-Qaeda affiliation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Al-Nusra front, and other related brigades managed to seize control of several army positions in Mahin village located near the depots.
Following clashes with regime forces earlier this week, rebels also managed to seize a gas well near thetown of Sadad,also located near Mahin. The rebels originally entered Sadad without a fight, but regime forces were deployed Monday to the village resulting in clashes that killed five.
According to one rebel commander, Lieutenant Colonel Oraba Idriss who defected from the Syrian army, "The police station surrendered without resistance, and there were no clashes until the regime tried to retake the town by force. It used warplanes, artillery, tanks and all kinds of conventional weapons."