Offensives seen as Assad regime’s bid to eliminate opposition and as challenge to security council’s authority
Syrian regime forces launched a fresh ground and air offensive on Sunday against rebel positions in the besieged and battered enclave of eastern Ghouta in defiance of a nationwide ceasefire ordered by the UN security council.
Witnesses said fighting erupted on several fronts in what was seen as a possible last-ditch bid by Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, to eliminate opposition resistance in Ghouta, near Damascus, before the 30-day ceasefire can be enforced.
Eastern Ghouta is the last rebel-held enclave bordering the Syrian capital, Damascus. Since 2013, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have imposed a suffocating and deadly siege on the area. Yet several insurgent factions have retained control.