first published on March 2, 2018 by Sean
Syrian Arab Army (SAA) elements are finally making offensive gains in Eastern Ghouta after a massive preemptive bombardment that shocked the international community. Fighting continues in the largely flattened and besieged rebel pocket near Damascus, despite a recent unanimous UN Security Council vote for a ceasefire resolution.
For the last two weeks, purported Syrian aircraft and artillery have unremittingly pounded the rebel held enclave in the eastern Damascus suburbs. Besieged by the Syrian government since rebel groups took control of the area in mid-2013, it is home to an estimated 400,000 people. The bombardment was ferocious enough to immediately draw the attention of the international community- resulting in a ceasefire declaration under a unanimous UN security council vote.
The ceasefire resolution was intended to allow for the evacuation of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged neighborhood. However, currently the SAA is allegedly denying entry of a humanitarian aid convoy set to enter the contested region. Potentially hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the unending bombing and will soon be caught in the inevitable ground operation.
While softening the rebel held neighborhoods with indirect fires over the past few weeks, the SAA simultaneously began massing heavily equipped ground forces in preparation for an assault. Finally started just a few days ago, the initial incursion appeared to get off to a rocky start with the SAA losing several tanks. Rebounding from this opening setback, SAA forces are purportedly now making gains fighting against Free Syrian Army (FSA) faction Jaysh al Islam and al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The video captures some of these recent advances against the long-held rebel stronghold. SAA tanks and infantry fire and maneuver through a completely devastated landscape, blasting any opposition. Appearing to quickly consolidate gains in this instance, the SAA onslaught may continue to develop momentum against the isolated rebel bastion. Combined with the unrelenting and indiscriminate shelling of the civilian population, Eastern Ghouta will almost certainly continue to be hell on earth for the foreseeable future.