Renewed Clashes Reported in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta as De-Escalation Agreement Continues to Fail

Published October 26th, 2017 - 01:04 GMT
Man carries a baby in bomb-shelled Douma, Syria, AFP/File
Man carries a baby in bomb-shelled Douma, Syria, AFP/File

 

  • Renewed clashes have been reported between government and opposition forces in Eastern Ghouta, Syria
  • Eastern Ghouta lies within a de-escalation zone agreement aimed to stem violence and bring an end to the Syrian Civil War
  • Syria's White Helmets report that the siege of Eastern Ghouta has continued by the regime
  • "We are crying now, but we can't do anything" says one activist in the region

 

By Ty Joplin

Renewed clashes are taking place in Eastern Ghouta in the Damascus Countryside Governorate (Rif Dimushq Governorate) between the Syrian regime and opposition forces.

Government forces have reportedly shelled both Douma and Saqba, two towns on the eastern outskirts of Damascus that are controlled by anti-Assad groups, killing at least one civilian.

Blasts were also heard in both Jobar and Ayn Tarma, as a new government assault on Eastern Ghouta has reportedly begun. A tunnel bomb set by the opposition forces was exploded in Jobar as well, killing 15 government soldiers.

Although this information is difficult to independently verify, the attacks violate the de-escalation zone agreement signed in May of this year, which was negotiated by Assad-backers Russia and Iran, and opposition-backer Turkey, to try and wind down the six-year long civil war in the country.

 

 

Eastern Ghouta is formally protected by the agreement, but it has been consistently besieged and attacked by Assad’s regime, sparking doubt as to whether the agreement has been effective as achieving its aim of protecting civilians. For its part, opposition forces have engaged in clashes with the Assad regime.

The Syria Civil Defense, colloquially known as the White Helmets thanks to their signature helmets they wear during operations to rescue injured civilians, estimate that the Syrian regime has used 955 land-surface missiles and 841 heavy artillery bombardments in the countryside of Damascus in the past three months that were supposed to see a decrease in violence.

Local activist Abed al-Mayeen spoke to Al Jazeera about the conditions of Eastern Ghouta, saying that "[t]hree months ago” when the de-escalation zone went into effect, “the siege tightened, and since then little food or medicine has entered the area. The situation is getting worse; there is a shortage of food, medical supplies, milk and food supplements. This is truly the worst the siege has ever been."

"We are crying now, but we can't do anything."

As of publication, there are no signs the Assad regime will lift its siege of Eastern Ghouta or stop its shelling of opposition-controlled towns. There also seems to be little international pressure from the de-escalation backers to halt the ongoing violence in the region.


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