Deaths mount in the besieged opposition enclave, but there is no end to Syria’s enmeshed wars in sight
Bloodied children. Maimed children. Children pulled from the rubble, grey with dust, their mouths and lungs clogged with sand. Children who have lost their mother, father or brother. And these are the survivors. Unicef issued a blank “statement” to express its outrage, saying it had run out of words. Eastern Ghouta’s suffering – after long years of besiegement and multiple chemical attacks, including 2013’s devastating use of sarin – has escalated again. In this horror, even one of those trapped there asks in disbelief: “Are we really alive? Do others know we actually exist, and that we’re alive in these basements?”
Less than a year ago, the opposition enclave on the outskirts of Damascus was declared a “safe zone” in a deal between Russia, Iran and Turkey. There are almost 400,000 people still trapped there. Seven hundred have died in recent months, but attacks this week have killed more than 250, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and two dozen on Wednesday alone. Seven hospitals have reportedly been bombed since Monday and witnesses say barrel bombs are being used. This siege and bombardment do not constitute a war crime, but war crime upon war crime upon war crime.