Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 23, 2018
Families struggle to survive in Eastern Ghouta, under siege
A four-day-long bombardment by Syrian government forces is reported to have killed more than 300 civilians in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area. Here, people living there tell their stories.
The enclave – home to an estimated 393,000 people – has been under siege since 2013. But pro-government media say a major military operation might soon begin to clear rebel factions from their last major stronghold near the capital Damascus.
The relentless air and artillery strikes are leaving civilians, particularly women and children, in a state of fear and forcing them to seek shelter underground, where they are largely deprived of food and sanitation.
“We are living in a basement, underneath a half-destroyed house,” Asia, a 28-year-old student and mother-of-three whose husband was killed in an attack while he was on his way to work, told the BBC.
“My daughter is sick. Her hair is falling out because she is so afraid.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, says the government and its allies have carried out more than 1,290 air strikes on the Eastern Ghouta and fired 6,190 rockets and shells at the region since mid-November, when hostilities between government and rebel forces escalated.
Between Sunday and Wednesday alone there were reportedly about 420 air strikes, and 140 barrel bombs were dropped by helicopters.
UN war crimes experts are also investigating several reports of rockets allegedly containing chlorine being fired at the Eastern Ghouta this year.
The recent surge in casualties means that more than 1,070 civilians, including several hundred children and women, have been killed and 3,900 injured in the past three months, according to the Syrian Observatory. (Source: BBC News)