Lives hang in the balance as world leaders struggle to find a fix for Ghouta

By Joshua Boscaini.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of civilians have died after the continued bombing of a Syrian town just outside of the nation’s capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said more than 400 civilians have died during the Assad-led Government’s current bombing campaign over eastern Ghouta.

International leaders tried implementing a ceasefire to provide food and medical supplies to the city of 400,000 people, but the first attempt was unsuccessful.

The agreement was to take effect after 72 hours, but it was suspended by Russia who said it was unrealistic.

The deal was quickly amended by Sweden and Kuwait who scrapped the measure to satisfy Russia’s demands, which then saw the new agreement pass successfully.

A nation-wide ceasefire was to take place for 30 days, but Russia would only accept five hours a day.

It comes as reports emerged from the city about the possible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said there needs to be a political solution for the city.

“The bombing of Ghouta has been a horrendous outcome… it is absolutely abhorrent that chemical weapons should be used in any circumstance,” Ms Bishop said.

“Australia will continue to support all efforts to bring those responsible to justice…to prosecute those involved.”

The UN said it had 700 cases to be evacuated, but only 29 have been removed from east Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

Spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke, said the UN is ready to mobilise aid convoys, but continued military activity in the area is hampering their efforts.

“It’s the change of the situation on the ground that allows these life-saving programmes to be carried out,” Mr Laerke said.

“We stick to what has been agreed in the Security Council. It is a question of life and death. If there ever was any question of life and death, this is it.”


The shelling of eastern Ghouta is all part of an uprising which began during the Arab Spring in 2011; it saw the successful overthrow of Tunisia’s’ and Egypt’s governments.

Many pro-democracy activists were arrested for protesting against the authoritarian Bashar Al Assad regime.

It gave rise to an armed anti-government rebel group named the ‘Free Syrian Army’ – their aim was to overthrow the Syrian Government.

Eastern Ghouta is a Syrian rebel stronghold, and the government wants to regain control of the area too close to Damascus for comfort.

 Why is Russia involved?

The Syrian civil war is described as a proxy war – Russia and Iran have been accused supporting the Assad regime by providing military support in exchange for oil.

The relationship exists from the Cold War where Syria and the Soviet Union both had strong relations.

But after Russia began expanding its military in the mid-2000s, the relationship between the two nations became even stronger.

The battle comes as the Syrian civil war between the Assad-led Syrian Government and anti-government rebel enters its eighth year of fighting.




Image Source: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

ABC, Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters, SBS

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