Syria Daily: East Ghouta — A Small Aid Delivery, Then More Airstrikes

Pro-Assad forces take a selfie in East Ghouta, Syria

The Assad regime and Russia renewed airstrikes on Friday on besieged and bombarded East Ghouta, near Syria’s capital Damascus, soon after a small aid delivery was allowed into the area.

After a brief pause in the five-week assault that has killed at 1,300 people and wounded thousands more, the regime-Russian strikes hit Douma, the center of the opposition enclave with more than 350,000 residents.

Earlier in the day, 13 trucks were allowed into East Ghouta. Earlier in the week, a convoy of 46 trucks — only the third permitted by the regime since last summer — entered the territory, but 70% of its medical supplies were stripped and it was disrupted by pro-Assad attacks on Douma, with only half the food delivered.

The assistance on Friday was enough for just 12,000 people.

The Red Cross expressed hope that larger convoys could be allowed soon. However, it said medical supplies will not be permitted because the regime thinks they will be used to treat rebels facing the pro-Assad offensive that has taken more than 1/3 of the remaining opposition-held part of East Ghouta.

The Red Cross’s regional director Robert Mardini tweeted:

Reports had circulated earlier this week of surrender arrangements for some towns, as Turkey announced that camps for another 170,000 are being set up in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, possibly to take residents and rebels forcibly displaced from East Ghouta.

However, the agreement for Hamouriya fell through and others were not completed, with the regime and Russia carrying out one of their most intense bombardments so far across East Ghouta on Wednesday.

Co-Founder of White Helmets Rescuers Killed

Among the latest fatalities from pro-Assad attacks in East Ghouta is Mohammad al-Masarwa, the co-founder of the White Helmets civil defense organization.

Al-Masarwa was slain in bombardment of Douma.

Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, said of al-Masarwa, who set up rescue teams in East Ghouta:

Today I lost someone who has been a dear brother and partner since the founding of the White Helmets.

I have been waiting for the call you promised me. Now you’re gone.

I promise you now that I will never fail you. I will never fail our people. I will give my soul in service of the Syrian people.

May your soul rest in peace, my brother Mohammad Masarwa.

Raed al Saleh, Head of the White Helmets on the passing of his

Almost 200 White Helmets rescuers have been killed by regime and Russian assaults since the organization was founded in 2013.

Meanwhile, other White Helmet volunteers killed this week have been buried:

Jaish al-Islam: “Jabhat al-Nusra” Detainees to Be Moved to Idlib

Jaish al-Islam, one of the two leading rebel factions in East Ghouta, has announced the movement of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham detainees to Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is led by the faction Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliated with Al Qa’eda. The Assad regime and Russia have used the false pretext that HTS is prominent in East Ghouta to justify assaults on civilian areas as well as the pro-Assad offensive defying a UN call for a ceasefire.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Not surprised at the YPG/PKK collapse in Afrin (they’ll no doubt a ‘last man’ stand inside Afrin city) as many posters here, including myself, have always said that with US airforce & artillery support the YPG are more useless then the worse FSA unit.
    .
    That said I suspect once the capture of Ghoutha is over the Syrian regime will attempt to go after either Deraa or the rebel pocket in Homs and that’s why rebels in both Deraa & Homs should start laying defence fortifications right now (e.g. not only digging trenches and tunnels but also creating artificial tunnels as well as create units dedicated to ‘drone swarms’ and ‘IED’ ambush teams) instead of waiting for the regime to come to them.

  2. There is now commentary on The Guardian that the Olgino Trolls (from 55 Savushkina Street) are now claiming to be Australian or Irish (rather than British or American – where they can be detected). Isn’t that what we have here with our two friends? I have a good Irish friend. When our friend returns (he has disappeared since Mueller’s indictment — probably too busy smokescreening the Olgino operation and planting disinformation to divert the scrutiny), I will ask him about Ireland to gauge his knowledge. My wife’s sister is in the same business as our Australian friend from Sydney. So I have posed him a question. But he refuses to answer. Not a good sign.

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