Ghouta: In the midst of horror

The civilians of East Ghouta are experiencing one of the worst offensives led by the Syrian regime and Russia in the last three years of the war

Ghouta: In the midst of horror

East Ghouta, controlled by the armed opposition in Syria, is a mainly rural area on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. Its civilian residents, 400,000 people who are mostly victims of internal displacement, today are under one of the most intense attacks of this war.

Testimonies and images that have come to light in different media give an account of the unimaginable horror in which the residents of Ghouta are suffering through. The area is mired in a real catastrophe, while in the hands of the regime and Russian warplanes. According to the Syrian Civil Defense, the government of Bashar Al-Assad is directly attacking the civilian population, destroying their collection points, their medical centers, schools, and their homes. Residents have nowhere to hide, but they also have no way to escape.

According to different monitoring groups, 400 people have died since the wave of bombings and air strikes that began on February 18th. Of this number of fatal victims, 150 were children. Only between Tuesday and Thursday, more than 190 people have been killed. Medical centers have been a special target of this aerial offensive, and several testimonies show how medical personnel and volunteers have been attacked and killed while trying to rescue people from the rubble.

Ghouta Oriental is under siege by the regime since 2013, the year in which the population was the victim of a chemical attack by the government, where more than a thousand people died. Since last year, the state of siege has been getting stronger and this year the situation has become much more critical. The blockade has also made a bag of bread cost the equivalent of 5 USD, and medical supplies and first aid are almost nonexistent. Between December and January, the Syrian regime did not allow the entry of humanitarian aid and in February only one convoy entered one of the towns in the area. 

The Security Council of the United Nations had an emergency meeting to try to agree on a 30-day ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid. However, as usual, Russia blocked the resolution on Thursday. On Saturday, there was a second vote that was unanimously approved, but the Moscow's envoy has already blocked 10 United Nations resolutions in Syria, using his permanent position in the Security Council to do so.

However, this seems to be just the beginning. "The offensive has not yet started, this is the preliminary bombing", a pilot of the regime's armed coalition told Reuters. Those who still survive, under the rubble, in impromptu caves to protect themselves from bombs, know that they must prepare for the inevitable. A military offensive on land, which will wipe out what little remains of Ghouta, as it happened in Aleppo in 2016, and that will push the few survivors to another area where the same fate awaits them.


Latin American Post | Erika Cortés

Translated from "Ghouta: En medio del horror"

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