Deadly bombs crush the illusion of & # 39; climbing & # 39; near Damascus – Kuwait Times –

Deadly bombs crush the illusion of & # 39; climbing & # 39; near Damascus – Kuwait Times


Scorching air campaign reduces Ghouta agreement to shreds

HAMOR, Syria: A Syrian man carries the body of a child who died in an air strike in the rebel-controlled town of Hamouria, in the eastern region of Ghouta in the outskirts of Damascus on December 3, 2017. -AFP

BEIRUT: Three weeks of fierce bombing of the eastern Ghouta of Syria have crushed the illusions of a lasting truce in the rebel enclave that Damascus seems determined to recover All coast. A devastating air campaign has reduced a "de-escalation" deal in Ghouta Oriental to tatters, just as regime and opposition representatives are struggling to make progress in peace talks in Geneva. At least 193 civilians, including 44 children, were killed in three weeks of raids and artillery fire by the Syrian government in the area, according to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory based in Britain.

Rebels based in the area have also increased rockets firing on Damascus, killing 29 civilians and wounding more than 200 in the capital. Eastern Ghouta, the last stronghold of the opposition near the capital of Syria, was one of the four "de-escalation zones" agreed in May by the powerful Russia, Iran and Turkey. The agreement aimed to pave the way for a ceasefire and a nationwide political agreement that would finally end the conflict that has killed 340,000 since 2011. A reduction in violence has been maintained roughly in the other three areas in the northwest, center and south.

By mid-November, a relative calm that had prevailed over the eastern Ghouta area ended with an explosive bombing campaign by regime forces. "Eastern Ghouta is suffering the most ferocious bombing and the worst situation since the war began," said Thomas Pierret, a Syrian specialist at the University of Edinburgh. "We are really far from a reduction in violence," Pierret said, adding that the de-escalation zone had been reduced to "a big joke."

& # 39; Half of my house standing & # 39;
Eastern Ghouta is home to approximately 400,000 people struggling to survive under a devastating four-year government siege that has made food and medicine unavailable or too expensive. The United Nations has warned that 500 of them, mainly women and children, are at risk of dying without immediate medical attention. On November 28, Damascus nominally accepted a new truce proposed by Russia in eastern Ghouta, coinciding with the resumption of peace talks led by the UN in Geneva. But since then it has increased its bombings.

Maysoun, a nurse who lives in the big city of Douma, east of Ghouta, says she can vividly remember the day when the air attacks got up again. "I came back from the market to find that half of my house remained standing," said the 30-year-old pilot, who has since stayed with a friend. "I did not expect so much destruction, it's usually just the doors and windows that are affected," he said. Rajaa, mother of four children and now pregnant with her fifth child, lives in Hammuriyeh, one of the most bombed cities in recent weeks. "When they hear airplanes, children cry and they do not want to stay at home anymore." They are traumatized, "he said.

" At the entrance to the capital "
President Bashar Al-Assad has repeatedly pledged that his forces would resume all of Syria, and observers point out several reasons why It seems to have doubled in Eastern Ghouta now, French cartographer and badyst Fabrice Balanche said the de-escalation agreement had served as a "temporary" arrangement to allow the regime to redeploy troops elsewhere.With the key battle fronts against Frozen rebels, government forces backed by Russia could concentrate on overthrowing the Islamic State group in central and eastern Syria, Balanche said.

Now, with IS territory reduced to a small splinter, Assad could comfortably resume eastern Ghouta. " The regime needs to get rid of this pocket ", used by the opposition factions to launch rockets against Damascus and launch offensive Ontra nearby troops, said Balanche. "There is no doubt for the regime about allowing the rebels to form small republics in these territories," he said. For Sam Heller, an expert at The Century Foundation, the location of Eastern Ghouta "at the gates of the capital" has kept Assad a priority. The Syrian government has worked on "digesting it over time, through a combination of siege (and) periodic military pressure," said Heller.

Other areas follow?
The other three de-escalation areas: the south, Homs in central Syria, and northwest of Idlib, are at the bottom of the Assad list and have so far remained relatively quiet. "The success rate of the zones ranges from 20 percent in East Ghouta to 80 percent in the other regions," said the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman. The southern zone borders Israel, making the government sensitive. The "status quo" would probably prevail there, according to Balanche. The rebel enclaves in the province of Homs are smaller and less threatening, but Idlib presents a great challenge, with most of the province occupied by jihadists who were once loyal to Al-Qaeda. Tens of thousands of rebels who were expelled on buses from opposition areas under local truce agreements were thrown into Idlib, along with thousands of civilians. An attack to take it would require a lot of preparation, said Balanche. "There are many rebels, men hardened by battle ready for suicide." – AFP

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