Syrian government forces have launched a ground and air offensive in Eastern Ghouta, witnesses said, hours after the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces began fighting opposition groups from multiple fronts in the rebel enclave near Damascus, while Syrian warplanes continued to shell the besieged area for the eighth consecutive day.
Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javid, reporting from Gaziantep in neighbouring Turkey, said there were multiple attempts by the government to “storm” the area from several sides.
Besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta await UN aid
Rebel sources in control of the enclave were resisting the attacks, Bin Javid reported, saying the fighters struggled to hold their positions on multiple fronts.
The ceasefire’s aim was to evacuate residents of the Damascus suburb, which is under siege, and to allow for the flow of food aid and medicine.
Last week, deadly air strikes and artillery fire launched by Russian-backed Syrian forces exacerbated a dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave, home to some 400,000 people.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), more than 500 civilians lost their lives as a result of the aerial bombardment campaign that began on February 18.
“It is worth noting that before this [ground offensive] began, there has been relentless bombardment in many of the places in Eastern Ghouta, where those rebel defense lines were” Bin Javid said.
Eastern Ghouta is the last remaining rebel-held area east of Damascus and has been under siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since 2013, in an attempt to drive rebel forces out.
According to Bin Javid, government forces have been “specifically targeting underground tunnels and hideouts”.
“It seems that the government now is adamant to enter Eastern Ghouta.”
Meanwhile, the head of Iran’s armed forces Mohammed Baqri, said on Sunday Syria will respect the UN’s call for a ceasefire, but will continue attacks against what he called “terrorists” and on areas controlled by Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Read More