The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that thousands of people were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta in the past 24 hours as the fighting in the area increases. In the past few weeks, almost 80,000 people were evacuated from the area.
Destruction in the village of Arbin in Eastern Ghouta, February 27th 2018. Photo Credit: Qasioun News Agency
The Russian military forces on the outskirts of Damascus claimed this morning that over 6,000 people were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta on Monday alone, bringing the total to almost 80,000 since a humanitarian operation began a few weeks ago. This comes after civilians began to flee the ongoing violence as Russian-backed Syrian troops moved in to reclaim control of Eastern Ghouta, the last rebel holding near Damascus.
The death toll in Eastern Ghouta has escalated as the Assad regime struggles to regain control of the country. While international organizations continue to struggle to deliver crucial aid to the besieged area, this exodus is seemingly the first organized attempt at removing civilians from the conflict. Sources have not confirmed the accuracy of the numbers of those evacuated.
Rebels had previously stated that they would not negotiate a surrender with the besieging troops but signaled a change in rhetoric today as they entered negotiations with the United Nations. Meanwhile, Syrian troops continue to close in and divide rebel-held territory, cutting off vital supply lines.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the embattled region for the first time since the escalation, seen in a video released by the official government Syrian Arab News Agency::