Syria Army Discovers Chemical Weapons Workshop in Ghouta
Mar 13 2018
Such deals, in which the choice is usually to accept state rule or leave, have helped Assad's military claw back control of major cities, with support from Russian Federation and Iran.
After the army advances split up the enclave, Jaish al-Islam emerged as the strongest group in the town of Douma, Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Harasta and Failaq al-Rahman in the new southern pocket of eastern Ghouta.
The town's opposition-controlled authorities said on Monday the situation there had become "catastrophic", with no more room below ground for civilians to hide.
It communicated with Russian Federation through the United Nations to reach the agreement, it said.
Rebels have also fired rockets onto the capital.
Parallel offensives waged by Turkey and the Syrian government on two separate towns in Syria yesterday pushed residents into overcrowded shelters for safety as others tried to flee the advancing forces by road.
Rebels and some eastern Ghouta residents contacted by Reuters have said people there do not want to come back under Assad's rule for fear of persecution, an idea the government says is groundless. The expulsion of the rebels from eastern Ghouta would represent their biggest defeat since they lost their enclave in Aleppo in December 2016.
The destruction from the military onslaught has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis, with more than 1,000 people in urgent need of medical evacuation.
Across eastern Ghouta heavy aerial strikes continued on the towns of Irbeen, Harasta and other residential areas on Monday, state media said. Douma is eastern Ghouta's largest settlement.
On Monday, Syrian forces pounded two rebel towns in Eastern Ghouta, pressing on with a Russia-backed offensive that has so far allowed government fighters to retake almost 60 percent of the enclave.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, put the total death toll inSyria's civil war since it erupted seven years ago at about 511,000 people.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the United States circulated a draft resolution on Monday urging the Security Council to order a 30-day cease-fire in the Syrian capital and eastern Ghouta, expressing "outrage" at the lack of implementation of a resolution adopted February 24 calling for a cease-fire throughout Syria to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the wounded and critically ill.
The hardline Islamist groups include the Islamic State group and a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Mattis said that he was aware of reports of chlorine attacks on Eastern Ghouta but said that he did not have conclusive evidence that gas had been used.
Mattis blamed Russian Federation for Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which Moscow said it would help eliminate as part of an agreement in 2013, but which the U.S. and worldwide observers said Syria used on civilians a year ago.