With a Cloud of Smoke, Syrian Regime Forces Cut Off Largest Town in Eastern Ghouta

Published March 14th, 2018 - 08:28 GMT

Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged towns of the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 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 Feb. 18 that has left nearly 1,000 civilians dead and prompted global outcry.

Displaced Syrian civilians gather at a government-run shelter after they were evacuated by the army from area, children are shown walking down streets past rubble from destroyed buildings, and Syrian forces, Russian military forces, and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are shown in the area.

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Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, during reported shelling by Syrian government forces on Mar. 12, 2018. (Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP)

Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, during reported shelling by Syrian government forces on Mar. 12, 2018. (Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP)

Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (AFP)

Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (AFP)

A member of the Russian military police stands guard at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave on Mar. 13, 2018, awaiting any civilians evacuating from the area.  (Louai Beshara / AFP)

A member of the Russian military police stands guard at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave on Mar. 13, 2018, awaiting any civilians evacuating from the area. (Louai Beshara / AFP)

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather in the town of Jalamah on the Syrian-Turkish border on Mar. 12, 2018. 
(OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather in the town of Jalamah on the Syrian-Turkish border on Mar. 12, 2018. (OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

Syrian regime forces are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Mar.10, 2018.  (AFP)

Syrian regime forces are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Mar.10, 2018. (AFP)

A Syrian boy pulls a cart with items collected amidst debris of destroyed buildings in Douma, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (HASAN MOHAMED / AFP)

A Syrian boy pulls a cart with items collected amidst debris of destroyed buildings in Douma, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (HASAN MOHAMED / AFP)

A picture taken on Mar. 8, 2018 shows a Syrian child walking down a street past rubble from destroyed buildings, in the rebel-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.  (HAMZA AL-AJWEH / AFP)

A picture taken on Mar. 8, 2018 shows a Syrian child walking down a street past rubble from destroyed buildings, in the rebel-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of Damascus. (HAMZA AL-AJWEH / AFP)

Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, during reported shelling by Syrian government forces on Mar. 12, 2018. (Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP)
Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (AFP)
A member of the Russian military police stands guard at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave on Mar. 13, 2018, awaiting any civilians evacuating from the area.  (Louai Beshara / AFP)
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather in the town of Jalamah on the Syrian-Turkish border on Mar. 12, 2018. 
(OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
Syrian regime forces are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Mar.10, 2018.  (AFP)
A Syrian boy pulls a cart with items collected amidst debris of destroyed buildings in Douma, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (HASAN MOHAMED / AFP)
A picture taken on Mar. 8, 2018 shows a Syrian child walking down a street past rubble from destroyed buildings, in the rebel-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.  (HAMZA AL-AJWEH / AFP)
Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, during reported shelling by Syrian government forces on Mar. 12, 2018. (Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP)
Smoke billows in Zamalka, in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, during reported shelling by Syrian government forces on Mar. 12, 2018. (Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP)
Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (AFP)
Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (AFP)
A member of the Russian military police stands guard at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave on Mar. 13, 2018, awaiting any civilians evacuating from the area.  (Louai Beshara / AFP)
A member of the Russian military police stands guard at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus neighboring the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave on Mar. 13, 2018, awaiting any civilians evacuating from the area. (Louai Beshara / AFP)
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather in the town of Jalamah on the Syrian-Turkish border on Mar. 12, 2018. 
(OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather in the town of Jalamah on the Syrian-Turkish border on Mar. 12, 2018. (OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
Syrian regime forces are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Mar.10, 2018.  (AFP)
Syrian regime forces are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Mar.10, 2018. (AFP)
A Syrian boy pulls a cart with items collected amidst debris of destroyed buildings in Douma, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (HASAN MOHAMED / AFP)
A Syrian boy pulls a cart with items collected amidst debris of destroyed buildings in Douma, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on Mar. 12, 2018. (HASAN MOHAMED / AFP)
A picture taken on Mar. 8, 2018 shows a Syrian child walking down a street past rubble from destroyed buildings, in the rebel-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.  (HAMZA AL-AJWEH / AFP)
A picture taken on Mar. 8, 2018 shows a Syrian child walking down a street past rubble from destroyed buildings, in the rebel-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of Damascus. (HAMZA AL-AJWEH / AFP)