Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad paid a visit to Army positions in Eastern Ghouta as regime forces re-capture 80 percent of the enclave. Ghouta had passed to rebel control since 2013. The governmental offensive has left 1250 civilians dead including children and has led to a serious humanitarian crisis as all the major supplies including medicines were cut.
Syrian State Television has released a footage showing President Assad congratulating the armed forces for their victory. He assured the soldiers that people of Damascus are highly thankful to them and they will be remembered for generations. Assad stated, “this battle has been bigger than Syria-today you are fighting this battle on behalf of the whole world”. He also told the soldiers that every bullet which hit the terrorists changed the balance of the world.
Activists in Eastern Ghouta, on the contrary, have stated that bombardment on civilian area continues and that government has taken thousands of civilians into custody who had fled the deadly offensive. Failaq al- Rahman the key rebel group in the area is negotiating with UN for a possible ceasefire and also asked for more aid for the trapped civilians. People who are leaving the enclave are mostly arriving in three shelters in Damascus namely Dwier, Hejelleh and Adra. The absences of international monitors on evacuations have led to arrests of civilians, mostly men as they reach the outskirts of government-controlled areas.
The ones who are still in the enclave are facing dire shortages of food, water and medicines. People who have been staying underground for fears of bombardment have started to show malnutrition, chronic diseases, severe deficiencies of vitamins, skin rashes etc. Journalists who visit the area have reported the conditions are inhabitable.
Frontlines are continually changing as government forces advance to regain territory. Many international organisations have expressed the need for deployment of observers on the ground to ensure the safety of citizens.