Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed that his military will continue its offensive in eastern Ghouta to root out the rebel stronghold
Over the span of several centuries, Syria, which was at the forefront of the Islamic Caliphate witnessed multiple invasions and occupations. The Romans to the Crusaders and the Turks have tried to gain control of the region.
In 1946, the modern state of Syria was born when it got its independence from France. A country of fertile plains, high mountains and deserts, it is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shia and Arab Sunnis. The majority of Muslim population in Syria is made up of Arab Sunnis.
The Syrian Civil War has been going on since 2011. It began during the Arab Spring protests and due to resentment towards the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The war is being fought by several factions: the Syrian government and its allies, a loose alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadist groups (including al-Nusra Front) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with a number of countries in the region and beyond being either directly involved, or rendering support to one or another faction.
In 2018, the violence has escalated. In January, Turkish forces entered northwestern Syria to attack a Kurdish militia called the YPG. The Turkish government has repeatedly noted that this group is a "terror army" that presents a danger to Turkish security. The various factions fighting within the region have further complicated matters. Even though Turkish forces are fighting YPG, the group is considered a key ally by the US in the fight against ISIS.
Deadly air strikes have continued to take place in the embattled region. On February 20th 2018, airstrikes resulted in the deaths of 100 people in Eastern Ghouta enclave. In the span of 48 hours, the death toll has increased to 300 due to airstrikes. This included young children and the main target of the attacks seemed to the hospital in the region.
Despite reports of widespread violence, the nation’s President Bashar al-Assad has noted that his military will continue its offensive in eastern Ghouta to root out the rebel stronghold. Assad is a controversial figure in international politics. He has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own citizens and his actions have been condemned by various governments such as the United States. However, he continued to have the support of Russia and President Putin.
“We will continue fighting terrorism ... and the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism,” Assad said in comments to journalists broadcast on state TV.
"The operation in Ghouta is a continuation of combating terrorism in different places," he said. "There is no contradiction between the truce and combat operations," the Syrian President said, referring to a five-hour daily ceasefire ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin last Monday that was meant to open a humanitarian corridor for traumatized civilians to leave. "The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce," he added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ Director director, Rami Abdulrahman said, ““Most of it is farms and there are few towns in [the captured area],” said the Observatory’s director, Rami Abdulrahman.
The UN’s regional humanitarian coordinator, Panos Moumtzis, said, “One week after the UN security council voted in favour of resolution 2401, calling for a one-month cessation of hostilities across the war-ravaged country, not only has this not happened, in some cases the violence has escalated, particularly for the close to 400,000 men, women and children of [eastern] Ghouta. Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed. This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable.”
Our assessment is that as Syrian violence continues, it comes to down to the international community to come up with a valid solution that can address problems. The humanitarian crisis has resulted in the deaths of thousands including young children. The ongoing negotiations ended in a stalemate in 2017 but it has to be re-started once again with a clear goal of saving lives of the truly vulnerable.