Syrian regime offensive on Damascus suburb nears

Syrian regime offensive on Damascus suburb nears
After a deadline passes for Free Syrian Army fighters in al-Moadamiyeh to surrender, residents of the Damascus suburb are seeing worrying signs that a regime offensive is looming.
2 min read
30 December, 2015
Many residents returned home two years ago when a truce was signed [AFP]
The deadline of a Syrian regime ultimatum issued to a rebel-held Damascus suburb passed a day ago, and there are signs that all-out war is looming.

Free Syrian Army fighters in Moadamiyeh were told to surrender their weapons to regime forces. Rebels had until Monday to respond or face total war, the demand read.

The ultimatum preceded barrel bombs reportedly loaded with poison gas being dropped on the Damascus suburb on 23 December. 

The bombing had echoes of a yet more horrifying gas attack two years ago by regime forces that left at least 1,000 civilians dead.

Now the 45,000 remaining residents - who have survived repeated barrel bombs, poison gas and a series of crippling attacks - fear an all-out regime assault is in the offing.

A four-metre earth wall is being built by regime troops blocking the one artery out of the area.

On Tuesday, rebel-held south Damascus suburbs were hit with 20 barrel bombs, 50 mortar rounds and five missiles, said Dani Qappani, a media activist based in Moadamiyeh.

While there have been repeated incursions by regime and militia fighters over the past two months, clashes have intensified in the past two weeks.

Many residents who fled during fighting in the early days of the war returned home two years ago, when a truce was signed.

Now that a regime assault on the neighbourhood appears imminent, it appears there may be no escape for the many women and children of Moadamiyeh. 

It appears that the two-year truce between the two sides has all but ended, and it is again the regime that has broken its promise.

Now all the people of Moadamiyeh can do is sit and wait for more signs that the regime's "total war" on the suburb has started.