Thousands flee E. Ghouta as Regime Army Advances, Rebels ask for Talks

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Thousands of civilians fled the southern pocket of the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, carrying what few belongings they could with them. The rate seems to have been about 10,000 people a day until today. Russian sources are saying 11,000 people left Saturday morning alone and that on Saturday, 3,000 people an hour are exiting the checkpoint to flee the enclave. Their exodus, after seven years of steadfastness in the face of regime probes, suggests a conviction that a battle royale is coming to their neighborhoods and that they do not want to risk being present for it.

The Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad advanced in the rebel-held enclave of some 250,000, with Russian Aerospace Forces subjecting neighborhoods to intensive bombardment, which killed over 75 people on Friday.

The Syrian Arab Army has split East Ghouta into three cantons, each dominated by a different rebel group. These are the Saudi-backed Army of Islam, the Turkish-backed Syrian Conquest Front (formerly Nusra) in Douma in the north and the local breakaway from the Syrian Army, the Brigades of the All-Merciful in the east. With these three cut off from one another and from supply routes, the Syrian Arab Army commanders and their Russian advisers are hoping that the rebels will surrender or agree to be transported to Idlib in the far north, one of the last areas under rebel control. Some reports say that Turkey is trying to get this deal for its client, the former Nusra Front (which has been linked to Ayman al-Zawahiri’s al-Qaeda).

The Syrian Arab Army is claiming to have taken 70% of the territory of East Ghouta, and is now bringing in national police to patrol captured villages in the rear of the front lines instead of the army.

On Friday night, the Army of Islam, the Brigade of the All-Merciful and the Freemen of Syria announced their willingness to negotiate with Russia. The Syrian Conquest Front or Nusra is considered a terrorist group by Russia so there is no point in their joining such calls for talks.

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Bonus Video:

CGTN: “Thousands more civilians flee devastated Eastern Ghouta in Syria”

Posted in Featured,Syria | 4 Responses | Print |

4 Responses

  1. The Secretary of State designated Army of Islam as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
    Has that changed?

  2. The rebels at this point have no capability to carry out offensive operations in East Ghouta.

    A rebel counter-offensive was reported against the Syrian Arab Army in Hamouriyah in East Ghouta but it did not succeed – however the rebel forces can and still are maintaining style hit-an-run attacks against Assad’s troops and have been inflicting heavy casualties against the Syrian Arab Army.

    Underground tunnels have been the lifeline of the rebels and it is unclear whether these supply tunnels have been cutoff from rebel forces.

    There has been visual proof via photos of barrel bombs being dropped by helicopter over East Ghouta.

    In areas where the Syrian Arab Army is under control, Baathist security forces are reportedly separating adult males from their families and taking them into custody.

    Those residents of East Ghouta who are leaving are saying they have no food – they are not in any large part cheering the Syrian Arab Army as liberators and many residents have stated they prefer to stay and face death as opposed to Assad’s rule.

  3. They have been hideously mistreated by the rebels. link to youtu.be . Hopefully they will be cared for and able to return when the area is cleared, which must be happening as recently numbers less than 100 have been reported escaping

    • OR, the Baathists will ethnically cleanse the Sunnis from Syria, they will end up in refugee camps in the Arab monarchies run by jihadi provocateurs, and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking vengeance against Assad and the remaining Syrians.

      I mean, given the history of the Middle East, that really does make more sense, doesn’t it?

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