Eastern Ghouta death toll skyrockets to 1,000 as regime continues brutal bombardment
The brutal campaign launched by the Syrian government against the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta has left over a thousand civilians dead, a war monitor said on Saturday.
“The death toll has gone up to 1,031 civilians, after eight people were killed today in Harasta and Arbin,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Government troops and allied militia launched their military campaign against Eastern Ghouta on February 18 and have since overrun more than half of the area, defying global calls for a halt to the violence.
In a blow to the Syrian opposition, regime forces divided the besieged enclave into three sections and cut them off from each other, leaving the main town Douma completely isolated.
Medics and rescue workers have been unable to navigate the rubble-littered roads to treat the wounded and take them to field clinics.
At least 20 civilians, including four children, were killed in Douma on Saturday, in addition to 17 civilians in other battlefront towns, said the Observatory.
The death toll of 1,031 includes 219 children. More than 4,350 have been wounded.
|The bomb shelters and basements are full, and people are sleeping in the streets and in public gardens... For three days, it has been hard to bury the dead because of the intense bombing on the cemetery|
Douma's opposition-run local council issued an urgent "distress call" on Saturday to international organisations.
"The bomb shelters and basements are full, and people are sleeping in the streets and in public gardens," the statement said.
"For three days, it has been hard to bury the dead because of the intense bombing on the cemetery," it added.
Aid groups and NGOs have slammed the regimes brutality, with Save the Children describing the extent of the campaign's destruction as surpassing even the Aleppo crisis in 2016.
The UN's children's agency UNICEF issued a blank statement in response to the unprecedented levels of violence. "UNICEF is issuing this blank statement. We no longer have the words to describe children's suffering and our outrage," it said.
"Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?"
Eastern Ghouta is home to more than 400,000 people living under crippling regime siege, with little access to food or medical resources. World leaders and government officials have sharply criticised the Assad regime for its indiscriminate bombing and called for an immediate halt.
The escalating bombing campaign suggests the regime is paving way for a ground assault soon. Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad is keen to retake it, seemingly at any cost.