Rif Dimashq offensive (February–April 2018)
The Rif Dimashq offensive (February–April 2018), code-named Operation Damascus Steel, was a military offensive launched by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in February 2018 in a bid to capture the rebel-held eastern Ghouta suburb. East Ghouta, a pocket of towns and farms, had been under government siege since 2013 and had been a major rebel stronghold in the vicinity of the capital of Damascus. According to the United Nations, nearly 400,000 people live in East Ghouta.
On 14 April, the Syrian Army fully captured the Eastern Ghouta pocket. Before the offensive had concluded, the Associated Press reported that the capture of the whole rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave would represent one of the most significant victories for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war, and the worst setback for the rebels since their defeat in the Battle of Aleppo in late 2016. Similarly, Reuters stated the capture of Eastern Ghouta would represent the biggest prize for President al-Assad since the full recapture of Aleppo. During the offensive, one of the heaviest bombardments of the war took place with more than 1,700 people being killed by air and artillery strikes.
With most of the suburbs of Damascus recaptured by the Syrian government by February 2018, there remained a significant swathe of the countryside near the capital city captured by fundamentalist rebels from the mainstream ones in 2012 that had been under siege by pro-government forces since 2013. The rebels used to shell the capital daily and tried to infiltrate it many times.
Syrian forces began bombarding and shelling the area in early February after Russian-brokered peace talks failed, killing 200 by 8 February, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They again started bombarding it on 18 February, and did so for eight consecutive days before beginning the ground offensive.
The main rebel faction in the area was Jaysh al-Islam, based in Douma (with an estimated 10,000–15,000 fighters in the region in early 2018). The second largest was Faylaq al-Rahman, an official affiliate of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), controlling much of central and western parts of Ghouta, including the Jobar and Ain Terma districts. In addition, Ahrar al-Sham (based in Harasta) and Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – controlling smaller districts such as Arbin, Hawsh Al-Ash'ari and Bait Naim, with an estimated strength in the area of 500 in February 2018) had a far smaller presence.
On the evening of 18 February 2018, heavy artillery and airstrikes began targeting the rebel-held East Ghouta enclave. The Syrian Air Force launched large-scale air raids over the region, with warplanes reportedly striking rebel defensive positions, hospitals, and residential areas in and around the district towns of Douma, Hamouriyah, Saqba and Mesraba. Accompanying artillery shelling and rocket strikes pounded rebel territory. Overall, 260 rocket and air-strikes were conducted during the day. By the following day, the strikes had reportedly killed 94 civilians. Concurrently, government troops were preparing for a ground assault, establishing positions on both the western and eastern axis of the pocket. Early rebel retaliatory mortar attacks on central Damascus killed one civilian. Around midnight between 19 and 20 February, the Russian Air Force joined the offensive as well, targeting several rebel-held districts.
On 22 February, the SAA dropped leaflets over Ghouta, calling on residents to leave the area and urging opposition fighters to hand themselves over. Meanwhile, a total of 16 civilians had been killed and about 128 wounded in retaliatory rebel rocket attacks on Damascus between the 18 and 20 February. On 24 February, despite the adopted resolution by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, it was reported that airstrikes continued after the vote.
At around 8:30 a.m. on the morning of 25 February, hours after the UNSC called for a 30-day truce, a ground assault began with SAA forces capturing multiple points around the Bashoura Air Defense Battalion on the southeastern front of the pocket on the Hazrama and Tal Farzat approach. Shortly afterwards, it was reported that the army captured the town of Al-Nashabiyah, the villages of Hazrama and Al-Salihiyah, and the hilltop of Tal Farzat from Jaysh al-Islam fighters – continuing the advance towards Hawsh Zariqiyah. However, pro-government sources later reported Al-Nashabiyah and Hazrama had not been captured, but instead partially surrounded. At around 10:00 am, an assault on a new axis commenced with SAA units attacking the rebels on the Harasta-Arbeen front in the northwestern part of the pocket. The army's 4th Division reportedly also pushed into the rebel-held Al-Ajami district of Harasta, capturing some buildings in the area. Meanwhile, it was initially reported that the heavily fortified village of Hawsh Dawahra was also captured in the east of the pocket, however it was later confirmed that the assaulting government troops were ambushed by the rebels, with up to 15 soldiers killed and a tank captured. The village remained under rebel control. Among the army's weapons used to level entire swathes of rebel trenches and fire support positions in the assault was the UR-77 (УР-77) Mineclearing System.
The same day as the ground operation started, a video surfaced of the Syrian Army's Brigadier General Suheil al-Hassan speaking to government troops in Damascus, while being guarded by Russian and Syrian soldiers. During his speech, al-Hassan said: “Damascus awaits you, to dress her in victory… With God, we will be victorious, and with faith, we will be victorious. Remember that each one of you decided to fight to defend the truth, dignity, and to save Syria and its people”. Jaysh al-Islam claimed to have killed 70 pro-government fighters and captured 14 on the first day of the ground offensive. In contrast, the UK-based pro-opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 13 soldiers and 6 rebels were killed, while two soldiers were captured.
Syrian Army advances continued on 26 February, with the reported capture of a large part of the Harasta orchards, including an elaborate tunnel complex. The advances were reported to be "notable". The next day at 09:00 am, a humanitarian corridor was opened for five hours. However, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, it was shelled by rebel groups in order to prevent civilians from leaving the area. Early on 28 February, following a night-time operation, the army captured Hawsh Dawahra. During the fighting for Hawsh Dawahra, government forces utilized a mobile bridge to cross a moat near Sifco Laboratories and seize rebel trenches. The military also made attempts to advance towards the town of Al-Shifouniyah, where they made limited gains during the day. It was later reported that government troops managed to enter Al-Shifouniyah. The next day, the Syrian army captured Bashoura Air Defense Base, south west of Hawsh Dawahra.
After the third round of night-time assaults, government forces captured the village of Hawsh Al-Zarqiyah on 2 March, after which the military started shelling the nearby town of Utaya. Later in the day, the Battalion 274 base, south of Al-Shifouniyah, was also captured. Meanwhile, the rebels launched a counter-attack within Harasta, which went on for hours, resulting in numerous casualties on both sides. The next day, government forces took control of Utaya, Al-Nashabiyah and Hazrama, as well as most of Al-Shifouniyah. The military also attacked the town of al-Rayhan in the northeastern part of the Ghouta pocket, but was repelled. The advances took place following heavy fighting throughout the day for Utaya, with the army eventually seizing the town. Pro-government sources reported that the rebel defense of Utaya was "fanatical" and the most violent of the clashes took place in the town's northern outskirts. Following the capture of Utaya, the rebel defense of Al-Nashabiyah and Hazrama quickly collapsed, leaving the two towns fully surrounded. But within one hour, the military captured Al-Nashabiyah and Hazrama without resistance after it became clear the rebels had retreated from the towns in the final hours of fighting for Utaya so to avoid being besieged. Hours later, it was reported that the army was on the verge of also completely taking control of Al-Shifouniyah. At this point, Michael Stephens of the London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute told The National that the fall of the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta pocket was "inevitable". In the evening, the military reportedly reached two new rebel-held towns, while the rebel supply line along the Douma-Al-Shifouniyah road came within their artillery range. During their advances over the previous several days, the military had broke through a 12-kilometer defensive belt linking Al-Nashabiyah with Rayhan called "The Trench of Death".
On 4 March, the rebels managed to recapture large parts of Al-Shifouniyah in a counter-attack. Meanwhile, the military captured the town of Beit Naem in the south of the pocket. Following the advances over the previous two days, the army started operations to split the Eastern Ghouta pocket in two, with three kilometers remaining for this to be accomplished. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Jaysh al-Islam claimed via Twitter that rebels had killed 150 soldiers since the previous night. Contrary to this, the SOHR reported 12 soldiers had been killed. Several hours after the capture of Beit Naem, the military had taken full control of Al-Shifouniyah.
By 5 March 35 percent of the Eastern Ghouta pocket was taken by the Syrian military, which was two kilometers southeast of rebel-held Douma.[better source needed] The 4th Armoured Division reportedly captured several farms to the northwest and came within one kilometer of cutting the Harasta-Douma road. Meanwhile, government forces were also reported to had made advances in the south of the pocket. Early on 6 March, most of al-Rayhan, in the northeast of the pocket, was reportedly captured after the army advanced north of Al-Shifouniyah. In the afternoon, pro-government sources also reported the capture of al-Muhammadiyah in the south of the pocket. The same day, Russia offered the rebels and their families safe passage out of Eastern Ghouta. The rebels rejected the offer as "psychological warfare" and stated their defense lines had been re-established after crumbling in the first days of the offensive. Farms around Mesraba, Beit Sawa and Hawsh Al-Ash'ari had been captured by the army by the end of the day.
Splitting the pocket
On 7 March, the military captured Beit Sawa and Hawsh Al-Ash'ari, clearing the way for an attack on nearby rebel-held Mesraba. Later, Mesraba was being struck by "preparatory fire" before a planned infantry assault. By nightfall, pro-government forces had practically cut the Eastern Ghouta pocket in two with artillery fire. At this point, government troops advancing from the east were between 1 and 1.3 kilometers from reaching the army's Harasta vehicle base on the pocket's western edge. In response to the SAA's gains, the rebels reported they were deploying more guerrilla-style ambushes in lost territory in an attempt to stop further advances. On 8 March, the military captured the town of Hawsh Qubaybat, as well as the Aftris Air Defence Battalion base, near the rebel-held town of Aftris.
On 10 March, after 24 hours of fighting, the army seized Mesraba, as well as the Kilani gas station on the main highway, thus splitting the Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave into three sections. The three separated pockets were Harasta, Douma and the southern part of Eastern Ghouta. The rebels denied Eastern Ghouta had been entirely split, but SOHR stated the roads between the three parts were indeed cut due to artillery fire. Government shelling during the day reportedly focused on underground shelters and even mosques, many of which were being used as hiding spots for civilians. Government forces also advanced towards the Harasta vehicle base, although they failed to capture Madyara, the last town separating them from the base. The next day, the rebels continued to put up fierce resistance to prevent the linking up of government troops with the vehicle base. Nevertheless, the SAA eventually captured Madyara, thus officially physically splitting Eastern Ghouta in two and reaching the Harasta vehicle base.
On 12 March, government forces were 200 to 300 meters from physically cutting off Harasta from Douma. Later in the day, the military finished encircling Harasta, cutting it off from Douma. The army had also captured the town of Aftris, thus fully clearing the rural areas of the southern part of Eastern Ghouta. The battle for the town lasted several days due to heavy rebel defenses which consisted of a wide anti-tank ditch and several well-fortified layers of trenches and tactical positions in and around it. Government forces also shelled rebel positions on the Jobar axis during the day. Meanwhile, tensions erupted in the rebel-held town of Kafr Batna, with the rebels shooting at civilian protesters who were demanding an evacuation deal with the government; one protester was killed, according to a local doctor.
Rebel territory in Eastern Ghouta was now officially reduced to three pockets, one in the north around Douma held by Jaysh al-Islam; a second in the south around Hamouria held by Faylaq al-Rahman; and a third in the west around Harasta held by Ahrar al-Sham.
Clearing the pockets
On 14 March, the Syrian Army and allied militias stormed the northern neighborhood of Hamouriyah (under Faylaq al-Rahman control), entered the southern part of al-Rayhan, captured "roughly" 40% of Jisreen from Faylaq al-Rahman, and shelled Arbin and Kafr Batna. By the end of the day, according to pro-government sources, Al-Ahlam food factory and an army station to the south of Beit Sawa were also captured from Tahrir al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman. By the next day, the military was in control of the eastern half of Hamouriyah.
On 15 March, nearly 20,000 civilians left Hamouriyah towards areas under government control. Concurrently, the military captured Hamouriyah after the rebels withdrew to the town of Ein Tarma to the southwest. During their retreat from Hamouriyah, according to government sources, the rebels left behind snipers and small hit-and-run units in the town in order to slow down the government's advance; the snipers were flushed out with tanks and surgical strikes. Government troops also captured al-Rayhan in Douma from Jaysh al-Islam after two weeks of fighting. On 16 March, the SAA and allies fully captured and secured the town of Jisreen. On 17 March, it was reported that government forces had secure full control of Kafr Batna and also captured the town of Saqba; between 7,000 and 10,000 civilians left the combat zone for government-held areas. However, reports later circulated that the SAA had not secured the town of Kafr Batna and that clashes were ongoing. By 18 March, the Syrian Army and allies had captured and secured full control over Kafr Batna.
On 21 March, Ahrar al-Sham agreed to surrender Harasta in exchange for evacuation to rebel territory in northwestern Syria, as well as an offer to be pardoned under reconciliation terms, with 1,500 Sham fighters and 6,000 of their family members expected to be evacuated to rebel-held areas in Idlib province by 22 March, starting with wounded civilians. Syrian government military sources reported that 140 families were transported that day. Buses carrying rebels and their families started leaving on 22 March, with about 30 buses evacuating around 1,500 people including about 400 rebels. The Syrian state TV claimed on the next day that the last batch of rebels and their families was evacuated with 3,000 people including 1,000 rebels had been evacuated from the town.
On 20 March, the Syrian Army reported that it launched an assault on the Ein Tarma valley, quickly capturing most of the valley and reaching the southeastern outskirts of the Ein Tarma suburb. By the next day, the military reported it was in control of 70 percent of the valley and was 500 meters from fully seizing it. On the morning of 22 March, the army reported it fully secured the valley as the rebels retreated to the Ein Tarma suburb. On 23 March, government forces captured most of the suburb, as the rebels withdrew towards Zamalka and Arbin. The SAA reportedly raised the Syrian government flag in Ein Tarma's center, and had taken the nearby Hamza area.
On 23 March, after a deal was reached between the Syrian government and Faylaq al-Rahman, a ceasefire was officially enacted in the four major towns that still had a rebel presence - Arbin, Zamalka, Ein Tarma and Jobar. The ceasefire allowed for the immediate evacuation of wounded, with rebel fighters allowed to carry their light weapons and civilians their belongings. Under the deal, those who chose to remain were to be guaranteed safety from government reprisals as Russian military police would supervise the evacuations. The deal left one city, Douma, still under opposition control, which, according to The Guardian, had 150,000 civilians living there. The transportation out of the four towns began on 24 March, with 950 leaving, and continued on 25 March, with over 5,400 displaced. At least 6,749 people left the night between 26 and 27 March, the largest single-day evacuation from the region, according to Syrian state media. On 31 March, the last of the evacuations was conducted and the Syrian army declared victory in Eastern Ghouta, while the rebels that were still holding out in Douma were given an ultimatum to surrender by the end of the day.
Following the rebel retreat from the Eastern Ghouta towns, the military discovered a complex network of secret tunnels, including well-stocked underground hospitals and corridors used by the rebels to move weaponry and ammunition between all of the towns. One entry point to the tunnel network, located among shops and buildings on a war-ravaged street, was able allow vehicles to drive underground. Many government troops were shocked at how many tunnels there were, as well as how long they were and how safe they were for those inside. The Syrian army reportedly discovered documents confirming a secret cooperation between a US-based company and the rebels, with the company funding and regularly paying the rebels.
On 1 April, a deal had been reportedly reached between the Jaysh al-Islam rebels and the Syrian government in Douma to evacuate the wounded from the city to rebel territory in Idlib province. By this point, Faylaq al-Rahman rebels who were stranded in Douma during the offensive had already been evacuated along with hundreds of civilians. The same day, the SOHR reported a final agreement had also been reached for all rebels in Douma to be transferred to Jarabulus and Al-Bab in north-eastern Aleppo.
The political leader of Jaysh al-Islam denied that they made an evacuation deal with the Syrian government and insisted that only the injured were agreed to be evacuated. The following day, buses arrived in Douma and the evacuation started with 1,100 rebels and their family members being transported out of the city over the next 24 hours. Some opposition activists reported that those evacuated were wounded fighters, while others said they were wounded civilians. Meanwhile, Jaysh al-Islam was divided over whether to fully evacuate the city, with hard-liners demanding they stay and fight.
Russian Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi told the Al-Watan newspaper on 4 April that Douma would be under the control of the Syrian government soon. Meanwhile, SOHR stated that about 2,350 Jaysh al-Islam fighters had been evacuated. A video posted on Jaysh al-Islam's social media accounts showed its religious committee’s chairperson, Abu Abdelrahman Kaaka, confirm the deal and deny disagreement between their leadership and fighters. However, evacuations were suspended on the next day. SANA stated it was due to internal disagreements within Jaysh al-Islam. SOHR stated the disagreements occurred due to measures taken by Turkish troops in areas where rebels were arriving. SANA and opposition sources stated 650 rebels and civilians were evacuated on 4 April.
SOHR stated that two civilians were killed when warplanes targeted Douma for the first time in 10 days on 6 April. SANA stated that it was in response to rebel shelling on Damascus, which had killed four. The same day, the Syrian government launched an air and ground offensive on Douma, with pro-government forces advancing in the farms outside the town. Overall, 48 civilians had died in the shelling of Douma by 7 April.
Government forces made advances in Douma's outskirts during 7 April, advancing from the west, east and south. They made a significant advance in southern Douma, infiltrating Jaysh Al-Islam’s primary line of defense near the Misraba axis. Per a military source, they had reached Douma's southern outskirts. On the eastern flank, the army was also attempting to fully secure al-Rayhan, half of which was still under rebel control despite previous reports of capture by the military. Al-Rayhan had a high-density of rebel tunnels, well-disguised trenches and fire support positions on its western flank, offering stiff resistance to the army's advances - leaving about a dozen government tanks destroyed since the offensive began.
Jaysh al-Islam accused the government of a chemical attack on 7 April. Syrian state media and Russia denied the accusations. On 8 April, according to the Syrian military, a new ceasefire was declared after government troops captured al-Rayhan. State media reported that Jaysh al-Islam had agreed to leave Douma. It added that buses had been dispatched to evacuate the rebels and the prisoners they had released under the deal. A bus carried dozens of rebels and their families to northern Syria while the first batch of the rebels' prisoners were released simultaneously. The next day, Russian military police visited the site of the alleged chemical attack. A video by local activists showed a Russian armored personnel carrier arriving at the building where the projectile containing the chemical agent had reportedly landed.
On 9 April, civilians stormed rebel warehouses that had been packed with food. Heavy gunfire was also reported during the day as the rebels tried to spend all of their ammunition; the rebels also burned their tanks, heavy weapons and other military vehicles as they were evacuating. They also released the remaining 100 out of 200 prisoners they had been holding in Douma. During the evacuation negotiations, the rebels stated they had up to 5,000 prisoners. Other reports placed the number of prisoners between 3,500 and 5,000, but state TV cited an official source as saying the rebels had exaggerated the number in order to strengthen their position during negotiations. According to the pro-government outlet Al-Masdar, thousands of other prisoners were executed or thought to have died due to illness, hunger or fatigue while being forced to dig tunnels for the rebels. Interfax, citing the Russian military, stated that 2,000 rebels had left on 10 April, while 4,000 more were also preparing to leave Douma.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated that nearly 4,000 people were evacuated to Aleppo province on 11 April. Before leaving, the rebels surrendered their heavy weapons, while the leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Essam al-Buwaydhani, left the city in the evening. On 12 April, as the last of the rebels were leaving Douma, Russian news agencies reported that the Syrian Army had taken full control of the city, with the Syrian flag raised in a symbolic move in the town and Russia declaring the Syrian government's victory in Eastern Ghouta. Soon after, another batch of rebels left Douma. The Russian defense ministry stated that the Russian military police had begun patrolling Douma as stipulated in the evacuation deal, while Syrian forces were yet to enter it.
SOHR reported that about 4,000 people were evacuated on 13 April. Hamza Bayraqdar, spokesman for Jaysh al-Islam, stated his fighters had all evacuated. The SAA meanwhile still denied they had entered Douma at the time. Around midnight between 13 and 14 April, about 100 buses evacuated the last batch of rebels and civilians, following which Russian and Syrian government forces took complete control of Douma.
State TV reported that Syrian police units had entered Douma in the morning of 14 April. This move brought the entire Eastern Ghouta under government control and effectively ended the near 7-year rebellion near Damascus. In the evening, the Syrian Army declared the eastern suburbs of Damascus “fully liberated”.
250 people were reportedly killed within the first two days of the opening bombardment phase, the highest 48-hour death toll in the Syrian conflict since the 2013 chemical attack on eastern Ghouta. According to a medical worker, the situation forced doctors to use expired drugs, including anesthetics, because they had no other option.
On 21 February, SOHR reported 260 people had been killed since the night of 18 February, with 106 killed on 20 February alone. According to Doctors without Borders (MSF), 13 health facilities had been destroyed or damaged because of the airstrikes.
On 22 February, Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Syria, reported that "80 percent of the population of the town of Harasta was living underground". The same day, the number of health facilities stricken had grown to 22 as medics and doctors stated that "the medical system in eastern Ghouta is near collapse", and that only three facilities remained fully operational. International organizations claimed there was "clear evidence that hospitals were deliberately targeted".
On 23 February, it was reported that one journalist, Abdul Rahman Ismael Yassin, died from injuries sustained in a 20 February airstrike. Between 18 and 24 February, more than 520 civilians were killed and 2,500 wounded in the Eastern Ghouta area due to the Syrian government and Russia's air and artillery strikes.
On 24 February, MSF warned that "casualty numbers in Syria's besieged East Ghouta enclave are soaring beyond imagination as the capacity to provide healthcare is in its final throes". The next day, according to SAMS-supported medical staff, 1 child was killed and 11 people suffered breathing problems due to an alleged chlorine attack.
On 2 March, two children managed to leave Eastern Ghouta under the cover of darkness via a humanitarian corridor, according to a Russian general. The general, speaking for the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides, said the rebels repeatedly shelled the corridor intended for the exit of civilians from that area and were also keeping hostage the population in the rebel-controlled Eastern Ghouta, threatening to punish those wishing to leave. The same day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Syrian government air strikes and shelling on the Ghouta are "likely war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity", while MSF stated that 15 out of 20 facilities supported by them in East Ghouta have been hit by bombing or shelling.
On 4 March, it was reported that thousands of civilians had fled advances by Syrian government forces in eastern Ghouta over the previous two days. According to a Russian military source, armed groups imposed a curfew and banned mass gatherings of people to prevent them from leaving the shrinking pocket. On 5 March, the rebels reportedly promised to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone, while 46 trucks carrying 247 tonnes of aid from the United Nations, the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for almost 30,000 people went in to the pocket via the Al-Wafideen crossing. The World Health Organisation said that the Syrian government officials removed trauma kits and surgical supplies from trucks, with 70% of supplies removed from aid trucks by the government. The convoy pulled out later after shelling, with UNHCR saying that 10 trucks had not been emptied. The Russian military said it had also evacuated 13 residents. The next day U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert commented on Twitter that "the Syrian regime is pilfering aid". Syrian government shelling and airstrikes killed 89 people during this day, making it the deadliest day there since the U.N.'s Security Council demanded a cease-fire across Syria. Meanwhile, an aid worker from SOS Chrétiens d'Orient accused opposition fighters of deliberately targeting densely populated residential areas of Damascus city, with particular preference for the Christian borough of Bab Tuma within the Old City district.
On 7 March, activists in the residential town of Hamouriyah released videos appearing to show phosphorus bombs being dropped and many victims struggling to breathe. Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad denied the reports during a press conference. Four days later, the White Helmets group said that the Syrian government hit Irbin with chlorine gas, phosphorus bombs and napalm.
In early to mid-March, the United Nations' human rights chief accused the Syrian government of orchestrating an "apocalypse" in Syria. MSF stated that in the eastern Ghouta "key items, particularly for surgery, have run out", and that "the majority of residents are living in basements and makeshift underground shelters, in unsanitary conditions with limited safe drinking water and often no hygiene or sanitation facilities." The United Nations' refugee agency representative to Syria, Sajjad Malik, said that the Eastern Ghouta was "on the verge of a major disaster" and there were dead bodies still in destroyed buildings.
On 14 March, a Russian general reported over 300 people had fled Eastern Ghouta for Damascus since the implementation of the humanitarian corridor on 27 February. The same day, the Russian Defence Ministry announced that 437 civilians had been evacuated from Douma and that a humanitarian convoy would deliver 137 tonnes of food to the area the next day.[better source needed] The next day, as government forces fought to fully capture Hamouriyah, thousands of civilians fled towards the government-held territory with at least 12,500 leaving on that day according to the SOHR. On March 16, 2018, between 12,000 and 13,000 people fled Eastern Ghouta, in what was reported as the largest one-day exodus in the country's seven-year war. By 24 March, over 105,000 people have been evacuated from eastern Ghouta, with Douma remaining the sole rebel stronghold after month-long fighting.
On 15 March, the China Central Television reported that the SAA had discovered a chemical weapon workshop located within a farm previously under rebel control near the suburb of Douma.
On 22 February, in response to the Ghouta escalation, Sweden and Kuwait proposed a resolution at the UN Security Council, consisting of a 30-day truce in Syria. The resolution was subsequently rejected by Russia. However on 24 February, after about a week's worth of government bombardment operations, the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.
On 26 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a daily five-hour "humanitarian pause" in eastern Ghouta. The ceasefire was to start the next day from 9 am until 2 pm local. However on the same day Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated both Ahrar al Sham and Jaysh al Islam are to be excluded from cease-fire agreements for collaborating with al-Nusra. In early March, a Russian offer of safe passage out of eastern Ghouta for the rebels and their family members was rejected by the rebels.
Rebel response to the offensive
On 2 March, Ansar al-Islam launched a raid in Hama to alleviate pressure from Ghouta and claimed to have killed 30 pro-government fighters at a checkpoint releasing a video showing the attack.
On 14 March, rebel groups of the Syrian Liberation Front, the Turkistan Islamic Party and Jaysh al-Izza launched a retaliatory military offensive in northwest Hama Governorate in response to the SAA's Eastern Ghouta operation. Within hours of the operation, after opening rocket attacks and artillery shelling on SAA positions, rebel shock troops stormed and captured the town of Kernaz and most of Al-Hamameyah, forcing government forces to retreat. Syrian and Russian jets responded to the offensive with air strikes on rebel tactical positions. However, that same day, the Syrian Army launched a counter-attack which successfully recaptured Karnaz and Al-Hamameyah, reversing all rebel gains.
On 14 April, France, the United Kingdom and the United States launched airstrikes against four Syrian government targets in response to the chemical attack in Douma.
- Involved parties
- Syria – The Foreign Ministry accused militants in Ghouta of targeting Damascus and using people as "human shields."
- United Nations – "It's imperative to end this senseless human suffering now. Such targeting of innocent civilians and infrastructure must stop now," Panos Moumtzis, the UN's Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis said in a statement. Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed for an "immediate suspension of all war activities in eastern Ghouta." Speaking to the UN Security Council, he described residents as living in "hell on earth". United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has said that "the Syrian regime and its foreign allies of planning their next apocalypse".
- EU - Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and fellow senior EU official Christos Stylianides released the following statement: "The European Union calls on all parties to the conflict, as well as the guarantors of the four De-Escalation Areas, to take all necessary measures to ensure the decrease of violence, the protection of the Syrian people by respecting International Humanitarian Law, and urgent humanitarian access. There is no military solution to the conflict, we call on all parties to seriously engage in the UN-led political process."
- France – President Emmanuel Macron said: "France clearly, vigorously, condemns what is taking place in eastern Ghouta." The foreign ministry issued a statement that read the attacks "deliberately target inhabited areas and civilian infrastructure, including medical ones. They constitute a grave violation of the international humanitarian law...these acts engage the responsibility of the Syrian regime, but also that of Russia and Iran, which are its main backers and who, in the framework of the Astana agreements, have vouched for a ceasefire that is supposed to apply to Ghouta."
- Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The killing of children, the destruction of hospitals – all that amounts to a massacre that must be condemned and which must be countered with a clear no. That is something that we as Europeans need to work towards."
- Holy See – On 25 February, Pope Francis said that Syria was being "martyred" by the continued attacks "killing civilians in the eastern Ghouta district." He also called for an immediate end to violence and access to humanitarian aid.
- Iran – Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that Iran believed in a political solution to the conflict, not a military one. Iran says it is in close contact with Syria, Russia and Turkey to try to reduce tension in the Eastern Ghouta.
- Qatar – The Foreign Ministry issued a statement that read: "The State of Qatar expresses it's strong...condemnation of the massacres and intensive aerial bombardments carried out by the forces of the Syrian regime."
- Russia – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said their reaction was an attack on "terrorism" and not directed at civilians. In keeping with the existing agreements, the fight against terrorism cannot be restricted by anything." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "These are groundless accusations. We don't know what they are based on." The allegations "are not backed up with any specific information. We do not agree with them," he added.
- Saudi Arabia – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that read: "We stress the need for the Syrian regime's violence to end, and to have humanitarian aid and relief to enter. The political path to the crisis solution must be taken seriously, in accordance with the agreed principles of the Geneva Declaration 1 and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254."
- UAE – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement that read: "Syria has suffered enough through severe conflict and the systematic targeting of civilians and cannot bear more bloodshed.".
- United Kingdom – "The UK will press Russia to support a ceasefire to allow for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid. Protecting Syrians and getting them the lifesaving aid they need must be paramount."
- United States – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated that the US is "deeply concerned" about the Syrian government's escalation of the siege on the enclave, denouncing what she called the "siege and starve tactics" of government forces.
- Amnesty International issued a statement that read: "International community still failing to act as ‘war crimes on an epic scale’ unfold in the besieged suburb of Damascus."
- Ghouta chemical attack
- Rif Dimashq offensive (September 2015)
- Rif Dimashq offensive (April–May 2016)
- Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign
- Leith Aboufadel (1 March 2018). "Over 2,000 Palestinian fighters deploy to Damascus for East Ghouta offensive (photos)". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- Leith Aboufadel (9 March 2018). "Virtual map of East Ghouta battle: September 2015–Present". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- "Member of the 'General Command' dies in the eastern Ghouta clashes". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- "Photos: Members Of Pro-Government Syrian Social Nationalist Party Participate In Eastern Ghotua Offensive". SouthFront. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- "Free Palestine Movement mourns one of its members". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- "Understanding Eastern Ghouta in Syria". IRIN. 23 February 2018.
- "Syrian government air strikes kill 71 and wound 325 in 24 hours, monitor says". Independent. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Western airstrikes unlikely to impact Assad's war machine". Associated Press. ABC News.
- "Syrian army declares full control of Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave". Xinhua News Agency.
- Leith Aboufadel (19 February 2018). "Syrian Army commander vows to 'wipe the floor' with militants in the East Ghouta (video)". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Unconfirmed: Douma to accept reconciliation with Syrian government". 25 March 2018.
- "Breaking reports: Syrian Army captures leader of Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group in east Damascus (unverified picture)". 24 March 2018.
- "The commander of the 'Corps of the Lord' issues a decree prohibiting the publication of news on the field". Enab Baladi. 9 March 2018.
- "High ranking rebel commander killed in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Confirmed: Syrian Army's full order of battle for east Damascus offensive". Al-Masdar News. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Over 15,000 Syrian military personnel deployed to East Ghouta for upcoming offensive". Al-Masdar News. 22 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
- Leith Aboufadel (21 January 2018). "Syrian Army scores major advance in east Damascus". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Andrew Illingworth (24 February 2018). "Video: New Syrian Army armored division heads towards east Damascus with over 100 tanks, armored fighting vehicles". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Zen Adra (7 March 2018). "Russian-trained troops to take part in Ghouta offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Russian airpower pulverizes militant defenses across east Damascus amid sudden entry into major offensive". Al-Masdar. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Regime forces advance in Syria's battered Ghouta". News24.
- ЧВК «ВАГНЕР» НЕ ДАЛА БОЕВИКАМ УНИЧТОЖИТЬ МИРНОЕ НАСЕЛЕНИЕ ВОСТОЧНОЙ ГУТЫ
- Press, The Associated (28 February 2018). "Thousands of Well-Armed Rebel Fighters Are in Syria's Ghouta". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018.
- "After the death of about 1650 citizens in the shelling of the Russian and the regime forces on it…the Eastern Ghouta witnesses the largest organized displacement in Syria during which more than 144 thousand persons have been displaced".
- "Tens of members and fighters killed and injured in the violent clashes in Al-Marj area in the Eastern Ghouta within the regime's attempt to advance into it". Syrian Observatory on Human Rights. 25 February 2018.
- 22-летний Александр Солопов из Средней Ахтубы погиб в Сирии при исполнении воинского долга
CIT announced the death in Syria of 22-year-old artillery of the Orenburg region
(en), C. I. T. "Vladimir Ponomarev from Sol-Iletsk, artilleryman from the same unit as Aleksandr Solopov, was also killed or fatally wounded in early March, possibly in Eastern Ghouta. He was buried with honors on March 14. @mod_russia hasn't reported any of these casualties.pic.twitter.com/biDzZ1mUhq".
- "To the callers of "sovereignty and care for the motherland"".
- "No relief for Eastern Ghouta as Syrian army advances into rebel district one 'bite' at a time". Independent.
Shells target the outskirts of Damascus and the death of a child raises to about 125 the number of people killed in the capital and its districts since the start of the escalation
استهداف متتالي بالقذائف يطال عدة مناطق في العاصمة دمشق ومحيطها يقتل ويجرح 21 شخصاً على الأقل
A previous fall of shells on the capital Damascus leaves more human losses
- Sputnik. "Thousands of Syrians Flee Damascus Due to Intense Militant Shelling". sputniknews.com. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syria forces ready for assault on rebel enclave". France 24. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- East Ghouta: Action needed now to save hundreds of thousands ‘living in hell on earth,’ stresses UN, UN News, 21 February 2018
- Mroue, Bassem. "More civilians leave Syrian rebel enclave as army advances". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters. "Syria rebels depart eastern Ghouta town on government buses in..." Reuters. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters. "As Syrian rebels quit Ghouta, Douma stands alone".
- Russia proposes inspection of gas attack site to avert Trump response
- "Syria Q&A: Conflicts in eastern Ghouta and Afrin explained". The Irish Times. 22 February 2018.
- "East Ghouta 'drowning in blood' after third day of bombing". The Guardian. 8 February 2018.
- "Syrian forces begin new offensive in Eastern Ghouta". Al Jazeera. 25 February 2018.
- "Which rebel groups are fighting in Syria's eastern Ghouta?". Deutsche Welle. 20 February 2018.
- "Russia orders daily truce for evacuations from Syria's eastern Ghouta". Reuters. 26 February 2018.
- Explainer: Who's fighting whom in Syria's Ghouta?, BBC Monitoring, 22 February 2018
- Wisam Franjieh In Besieged Eastern Ghouta, Rebel Infighting Increases Civilian Suffering, Syria Deeply, 1 August 2017
- "Syria bombardment kills 100 in rebel enclave as ground assault looms". The National. Agence France-Presse. 20 February 2018.
- New Bombing Campaign Hits 5 Hospitals, Among Worst Days in Syrian History, ReliefWeb, 19 February 2018
- "Assad regime's blitz of eastern Ghouta in numbers – The Express Tribune". 16 March 2018.
- "18 children among 94 killed in Syrian air strikes". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Zero hour approaches the East Ghouta as Syrian Army troops gather at several axes: map". Al-Masdar. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "The Latest: Syrian leaflets urge Ghouta residents to leave". Yahoo News. Associated Press. 22 February 2018.
- "A number of areas in the capital Damascus are targeted by more shells". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "Syrian Observatory Says Strikes Hit Ghouta After U.N. Vote". The New York Times. 24 February 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army begins the first phase of East Ghouta offensive". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Syrian forces begin new offensive in Eastern Ghouta, Al Jazeera
- "Syrian Army breaks through Islamist lines in East Ghouta, major advance achieved". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Latest map update of East Ghouta battle". Al-Masdar. 25 February 2018.
- Sidorenko, Ivan (25 February 2018). "#Syria #Damascus #EastGhouta All Reports claiming that Al Nashabiya is under SAA control Is false the forces advanced to besiege it from two axis. After high effort, the forces reached & ALMOST closed the gap between forces. Nashabiya will be under siege in next few hours. #SAApic.twitter.com/L8B8MJeq4h". Twitter.[non-primary source needed]
- "Syrian Army scores major advance in East Ghouta region – map". Al-Masdar. 28 February 2018.
- Breaking: Syrian Army begins another offensive in East Ghouta region, Al-Masdar
- "Syrian Army enters large district in Harasta after fierce battle with jihadists". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Syrian Army captures another town in East Ghouta region". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Islamist rebels ambush government troops while advancing in East Ghouta [+Video]". Al-Masdar. 26 February 2018.
- Video: Syrian Army charge thrower obliterates militant-held block in east Damascus, Al-Masdar
- Video: Syrian army brigadier speaks to troops flanked by Russian soldiers, Al-Arabiya
- "جيش الإسلام " يُعلن قتل قائد الحملة العسكرية للنظام على الغوطة الشرقية "". Syrian Press Centre. 25 February 2018.
- "Heavy clashes on edges of Syria's Ghouta despite ceasefire: Monitor". Arab News. 25 February 2018.
- "Syrian Army scores fresh gains in Nusra-held Harasta". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- "No relief for Eastern Ghouta as Syrian army advances into rebel district one 'bite' at a time". Indepedent.
- "Militants attack humanitarian corridor in East Ghouta: Russian MoD". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
- "Syrian Army captures strategic East Ghouta town in daring night assault". Al-Masdar. 28 February 2018.
- "Syrian govt. seizes ground in Ghouta advance: commander, monitor". Reuters. 2 March 2018.
- "Syrian government ground forces attack Ghouta despite Russian truce..." Reuters. 28 February 2018.
- "Geolocation of "Sifco" area shows Assad forces managed to cross the moat". 28 February 2018.
- بإسناد جوي وبري مكثف… قوات النظام مدعمة بالمسلحين الموالين لها تتقدم في حوش الضواهرة، والطيران الحربي يستهدف دوما صباح اليوم
- "Clashes rock edge of Syria's Ghouta despite 'truce'". Channel NewsAsia.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army enters new town in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
- "Jihadists collapse in Qaeda-held Harasta as Syrian Army secures new areas". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army launches powerful night assault in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army captures new town inside East Ghouta". Al-Masdar. 2 March 2018.
- "Syrian Army captures another military base in East Ghouta region". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "The regime forces continue their attack achieving more advancement in the besieged Eastern Ghouta and more casualties raise the death toll to about 630 civilians killed by the shelling escalation in 13 days". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "Jihadist counter-offensive in key East Ghouta suburb results in heavy losses for all parties". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army seizes 3 rebel strongholds across east Damascus in one fell swoop during massive all-out assault". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- "Within its continuous attack, the regime forces impose its control over more towns in the Ghouta, force Jaysh al-Islam to withdraw out of fear of being besieged". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "Syrian government forces make new eastern Ghouta advance: Observatory". Reuters. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- "Pictures: Elite Syrian forces conquer strategic militant stronghold in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army moments away from capturing another key militant stronghold in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 3 March 2018.
- "Syria government forces take almost complete control of Eastern Ghouta town". The National.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army reaches new areas in East Ghouta region". Al-Masdar. 4 March 2018.
- "The continuation of the escalation on the Eastern Ghouta kills about 210 citizens since the UNSC resolution was issued out of 740 casualties killed by the intensive shelling in 16 consecutive days". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Operation Damascus Steel: The most complex of all the battlegrounds in Syria". Delhi Defence Review. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- News, ABC. "Syrian troops advance in rebel-held region near capital". ABC News. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Jaysh Al-Islam return to advance in areas it lost in the Eastern Ghouta and the regime forces and warplanes intensify their targeting to Mesraba preparing for attacking it". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Elite Syrian Army forces snatch another militant stronghold in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- Mudiq, Qalaat Al. "E. #Ghouta: following fall of all its defenses on SE front Jaish Islam lost this morning #BeitNayem. Towns in SW. Ghouta (under Faylaq Rahman control) now exposed to Regime offensive (~4.5 km left).pic.twitter.com/g7idLsdFq0". Twitter. Retrieved 4 March 2018.[non-primary source needed]
- "Breaking: Syrian Army kicks-off assault to split militant-held east Damascus pocket into two". Al-Masdar. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- بقيادة مستشارين عسكريين روس…أكثر من 3 كلم تفصل قوات النظام وحلفائها عن شطر غوطة دمشق الشرقية إلى قسمين شمالي وجنوبي
- "At Least 150 Fighters of Syrian Regime Killed in Ghouta During The Last Hours".
- "Syria regime retakes quarter of rebel enclave as civilians flee". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Yet another Islamist stronghold falls to the Syrian Army in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Syria regime forces control third of Ghouta enclave: monitor". Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Jihadi rebels almost encircled in northeastern Damascus suburb". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 5 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army ups offensive across east Damascus taking new areas in sweeping push". Al-Masdar. 5 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syrian Army enters strategic East Ghouta town". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "Video: Syrian Army snatches long-standing militant stronghold in east Damascus with support of Russian airstrikes". Al-Masdar. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Beirut, Associated Press in (7 March 2018). "Eastern Ghouta cut in two as Syrian army seizes ground". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The regime force advance with their allies deep into the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and take the control of new farms after clashes during which about 200 members and fighters were killed in 11 days". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army scores new advances all across east Damascus". Al-Masdar News. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Syria regime captures half of Ghouta enclave as death toll climbs". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army seizes full control of imperative rebel town in east Damascus". Al-Masdar News. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Damascus intensifies Ghouta assault in bid to cut rebel enclave in..." Reuters. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The regime forces and allies continue advancing in the Eastern Ghouta and more casualties in the rocket and missile shelling today raise the death toll to 62". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 7 March 2018.
- "Syrian government forces poised to slice eastern Ghouta in two:..." Reuters. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syrian Army's within 1km of splitting East Ghouta pocket: map". Al-Masdar. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Forces gain more ground in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army reclaims long-lost air defense base near key town in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The escalation of the violent clashes in the Eastern Ghouta and the new advancement of the regime forces with the heavy shelling have killed and wounded about 70 people during daylight hours". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Largest Islamist stronghold in East Ghouta besieged: map". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
- News, ABC. "Syrian troops cut major roads in suburbs of Damascus". ABC. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syria army 'splits rebel-held Eastern Ghouta in three'". 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
- "Syrian army splinters rebel enclave in Ghouta onslaught". Reuters. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syria's war: Battles rage in Eastern Ghouta, as 'toll tops 1,000'". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The forces of Suhail Al-Hassan under Russian command approach to reach the Vehicle Department and separate Douma and Harasta from each other and from the rest of the Eastern Ghouta". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- فصائل الغوطة الشرقية تقاوم بشراسة لمنع قوات النظام والروس من الوصول إلى إدارة المركبات والقصف المتجدد بعنف يوقع المزيد من الخسائر البشرية
- "Breaking: East Ghouta enclave completely splintered, key town recaptured [+ Photos]". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 11 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
- قوات النظام تلتقي مع قواتها في إدارة المركبات بعد سيطرتها على مديرا
- Editorial, Reuters. "Syrian army completely surrounds Douma – Hezbollah military media unit". Reuters. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army just several hundred meters from isolating major jihadist stronghold in east Damascus". Al-Masdar. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking video: Syrian Army besieges major Islamist stronghold in Damascus, slices East Ghouta into three". Al-Masdar News. 11 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syrian forces advance against Ghouta rebels – Region – World – Ahram Online". english.ahram.org.eg.
- Jomana Karadsheh, Tamara Qiblawi and Lauren Said-Moorhouse. "Syrian regime forces cut Eastern Ghouta into three parts". CNN. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army seizes key town in east Damascus after days of battle". Al-Masdar. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Syrian Arab Army shelling positions of armed opposition on Jobar axis in Eastern Ghouta". 12 March 2018.
- In Replay of Aleppo, Syrian Army Splits Rebel Redoubt in Eastern Ghouta, The New York Times
- Syria regime pursues Eastern Ghouta offensive despite calls to halt 'bloodbath', France 24
- Syria war: Thousands flee Eastern Ghouta as army advances, BBC, 15 March 2018
- Syria regime enters key rebel-held Ghouta town, AFP, 14 March 2018
- "Clashes result in the advancement of the regime forces in the Eastern Ghouta with the rise of the death toll". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "E. Ghouta Field Report: Syrian Army advancing amid rebel collapse". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "Overview of Battle For Eastern Ghouta on March 15, 2018 (Maps, Videos)". SouthFront blog. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- Aid enters Syria’s rebel Ghouta as army presses onslaught, Pakistan Daily Times
- "Nearly 20,000 flee Eastern Ghouta as Assad forces enter key town in rebel-held thousands flee". The National. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- Thousands flee Ghouta rebel enclave as Syria army advances, AFP
- "Syrian army captures key rebel stronghold in Eastern Ghouta as 12,500 civilians evacuate". 15 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018., XinhuaNet
- Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces use danger-close airstrikes and tanks to chase Islamist snipers from key east Damascus town: 11-min video, Al-Masdar
- "Regime forces and the Russian advance and make Jaysh al-Islam lose its last town in the enclave under its control and surround it in its stronghold in Douma city".
- Breaking: Elite Syrian Army forces wrest control of long-standing rebel stronghold after brutal 2-week battle, Al-Masdar
- "Syrian Army Captures Another Town in Eastern Ghouta From Faylaq al-Rahman (Map, Videos, Photos)". 16 March 2018.
- Pleas for safe passage for civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta, The Guardian, 17 March 2018
- "Breaking: Another massive flood of civilians fleeing rebel areas reaches Syrian Army lines in east Damascus – statistics". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 17 March 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- "Overview Of Battle For Eastern Ghouta On March 18, 2018 (Map, Videos)". southfront.org. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Video: More East Ghouta rebels surrender as Army advances". Almasdar News. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters. "Syrian rebels agree to evacuate town in Ghouta: sources". Reuters. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Developing: Up to 140 families evacuated from Harasta in the East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Buses carrying Syrian rebels and families begin to leave east Ghouta's Harasta". Reuters. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Damascus' Harasta city empty of rebels with last batch leaving". Reuters. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- Syrian Army seizes most of Ayn Tarma Valley in East Ghouta, pushes to outskirts of suburb, Al-Masdar News
- Syrian Army captures 70 percent of Ayn Tarma farms in East Ghouta, Al-Masdar
- Syrian Army captures entire Ayn Tarma Valley in East Ghouta, Al-Masdar
- مفاوضات متواصلة مع جيش الإسلام وترقب لأكبر صفقة بينه والنظام للإفراج عن آلاف المختطفين والأسرى وإجلاء آلاف الحالات الطبية, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "Syrian Army takes control of several neighborhoods in East Ghouta as militants spend last night in region". Almasdar News. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Syrian army controls the entire town of Ein Tarma". syria.luveuamap.com. 23 March 2018.
- خروج متواصل للمدنيين من دوما مع الترقب لإفراج جيش الإسلام عن آلاف المختطفين والأسرى من سجونه وتحضيرات مستمرة من فيلق الرحمن للمغادرة, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- "Ceasefire deal agreed in Syria's eastern Ghouta". 23 March 2018.
- Maher al-Mounes with Abdulmonam EassaTearful Syrians leave rebel enclave in largest evacuation yet AFP 25 March
- Biggest convoy yet leaves rebel pocket of Syria's Ghouta: state media, AFP
- News, ABC. "Syrian army declares victory as rebels vacate most of Ghouta".
- "Underground field hospitals found in rebel tunnels as Syria's army tightens grip on eastern Ghouta". www.9news.com.au.
- "How rebels and civilians survived near total destruction of eastern Ghouta through a huge network of tunnels". 3 April 2018.
- Sputnik. "Syrian Army Reportedly Finds Documents in E Ghouta Linking Terrorists to the US". sputniknews.com.
- "Deal reached with Jayah al-Islam in Douma". BBC. 1 April 2018.
- "Update: Free Syrian Army fighters stranded in Damascus' Douma city evacuated to north Syria". Al-Masdar. 1 April 2018.
- "الاتفاق في دوما يصل إلى خواتيمه وجيش الإسلام يختار شمال شرق حلب وجهة له وطرف غربي يفرض ضمانات تحييدهم عن التحرك التركي". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Jaysh al-Islam Political Leader Denies That Evacuation Agreement Is Reached In Duma". SouthFront blog. 1 April 2018.
- "Military Siutation in Eastern Ghouta on April 2, 2018 (Map)". South Front. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "More Syrian rebels exit stronghold near Damascus". Miami Herald.
- Syrian rebels begin evacuations, Arkansas Online
- "Syria: government takeover of Eastern Ghouta near complete". www.aljazeera.com.
- Press, Associated (5 April 2018). "Evacuation of Syria's Douma suspended over disagreements" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "35 dead including children in air raids on Syria's Douma". english.alarabiya.net.
- "Violence breaks out near Syrian capital killing dozens". Associated Press. CTV News. 6 April 2018.
- "Syrian government launches assault on last rebel enclave in Ghouta". Reuters. 6 April 2018.
- "After their advancement today morning in tens of farms, the regime forces continue violent attack backed by aerial and ground shelling". SOHR.
- "Syrian and allied forces enter rebel-held Douma in eastern Ghouta". Deutsche-Welle. 7 April 2018.
- "US says monitoring reports of possible Syrian chemical weapon attack on Douma". Al-Arabiya. 7 April 2018.
- "Syrian Army reaches southern outskirts of Douma after major advance". Al Masdar. 8 April 2018.
- "Developing: Syrian Army strikes at Douma from east, battles hard to take full control of Ar-Rayhan - details". Al-Masdar. 7 April 2018.
- "Rebels say Syrian forces dropped chemicals on Douma, government denies accusation". Reuters. 7 April 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters. "Russia says Syria gas attack reports 'fabricated'".
- "BREAKING: Syrian Army, rebels declare ceasefire in East Ghoua". Al-Rasdan. 8 April 2018.
- Issa, Philip. "Alleged chemical attack strikes rebel-held Douma in Syria, killing at least 40". Chicago Tribune.
- "Rebel fighters begin leaving Syria's Douma after weeks-long military assault". Reuters. 8 April 2018.
- Shaheen, Kareem (9 April 2018). "Douma inhabitants prepare to leave after deadly chemical attack". the Guardian.
- "Breaking: Civilians in Douma break into Jaysh al-Islam food storage sites as rebel evacuation takes effect". 9 April 2018.
- "Surrendered militants in East Ghouta burn vehicles, equipment ahead of evacuation". 10 April 2018.
- "No more captives alive: Last batch exits rebel prisons in Douma [+ photos]". Al-Masdar. 10 April 2018.
- "All kidnapped by Islam Army rebels reach gov't positions near Damascus - Xinhua - English.news.cn". www.xinhuanet.com.
- "Russia says some 2,000 rebels left Syria's Douma - agencies". Reuters.
- "UN stresses need for safe evacuation of civilians from besieged areas in Syria". Xinhua News Agency.
- Rebels surrender heavy arms in Syria's Ghouta, leader exits: monitor, AFP
- "Syrian military raises flag over last militant stronghold in East Ghouta". al-Masdar News. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Syrian government raises flag in Douma - Russian agencies". Reuters. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Syrian flag flying over onetime rebel stronghold Douma as Russians announce victory in Eastern Ghouta". The Telegraph. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Russian Military Announces Syrian Government Victory in the Battle for Eastern Ghouta
- "Syrian flag raised in town of Douma as regime takes full control of eastern Ghouta". Straits Times.
- A new batch of Jaysh Al-Islam leaves in conjunction with the deployment of the Russian military police in Douma in the Eastern Ghouta, SOHR
- "Thousands leave Syria's Douma as evacuations wrapping up". Al-Arabiya.
- "Syrian Army denies entering East Ghouta town of Douma". Al-Masdar News.
- About 100 buses within a new batch launch from the outskirts of the Eastern Ghouta towards the Syrian North
- "Syrian army declares Ghouta rebel enclave fully retaken". Agence-France Presse. Straits Times.
- After the departure of tens of buses including thousands of displaced people aboard…the Russian forces and the regime impose their control over the city and continue to implement the agreement’s terms
- "Syrian police units enter town of Douma". Associated Press. Ynet News.
- East Ghouta officially under the Syrian Army’s control after last militant convoy leaves Douma
- The Latest: Syrian army says it has retaken eastern Ghouta
- "More bombs hit Syria's Ghouta, death toll highest since 2013". Reuters. 20 February 2018.
- "Doctors forced to use expired drugs as 300 die in Syria's Eastern Ghouta". CNN. 22 February 2018.
- Issa, Philip; Karam, Zeina (21 February 2018). "Hospitals overwhelmed with number of casualties amid bombing blitz of Damascus suburbs". Toronto Star.
- "Syria's Ghouta sees highest 48-hour toll since 2013 chemical attack: Observatory". Reuters. 20 February 2018.
- "Syria: Extraordinary mass-casualty influxes in East Ghouta as hospitals run short of life-saving medicines". Médecins Sans Frontières. 21 February 2018.
- "Air strikes hammer Syria's Ghouta for fifth day, U.N. mulling ceasefire resolution". Reuters. 22 February 2018.
- "Medical crisis in east Ghouta as hospitals 'systematically targeted'". The Guardian.
- "Syrian journalist killed in airstrike in eastern Ghouta". Committee to Protect Journalists.
- "Syria: Doctors and nurses collapsing as medical response in East Ghouta reaches its limits". Médecins Sans Frontières. 24 February 2018.
- "Despite U.N. Cease-Fire, Syrian Forces Begin New Attacks in Rebel-Held Enclave". The New York Times.
- "Civilians in Eastern Ghouta manage to flee through humanitarian corridor for first time". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "U.N. points to likely war crimes in Syria's Ghouta". Reuters. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Syria: Siege on East Ghouta Leaves Medical Care in Complete Collapse". Médecins Sans Frontières. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Syrians flee government advances in eastern Ghouta". Médecins Sans Frontières. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Russia says militants impose curfew in Syria's Ghouta: Interfax". Reuters. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- International Committee of the Red Cross Syria: First batch of essential aid reaches people trapped in Eastern Ghouta, 5 March 2018
- Aid convoy reaches besieged Syrian suburb of Eastern Ghouta but retreats under shelling, The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2018
- "Syrian government removes trauma kits, surgical items from Ghouta convoy: WHO". Reuters.
- "Aid reaches Ghouta but retreats after shelling; Syria presses assault". Reuters.
- "Syria war: Aid convoy leaves Eastern Ghouta amid shelling". BBC.
- Russian military says helps evacuate 13 civilians from Syria's Ghouta, Reuters, 7 March 2018
- "US State Dept. accuses Syrian gov't of stealing humanitarian aid from East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "The Latest: US-backed Kurdish fighters to move to Afrin". The Washington Post.
- "Ghouta's desperate plead with aid workers after weeks without help". The Daily Telegraph.
- "Syrian rebels shell Christian area in Damascus with particular discrimination, Western media doesn't care – French aid worker". Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "Syria's war: Battles rage in Eastern Ghouta, as 'toll tops 1,000'". Al Jazeera. 11 March 2018.
- "Regime sends more forces to Ghouta as UN decries 'apocalypse' in Syria".
- "Syria: An outrageous, relentless mass casualty disaster in East Ghouta". Médecins Sans Frontières. 8 March 2018.
- "Russia says over 300 people have left Syria's eastern Ghouta: RIA". Reuters. 14 March 2018.
- "Thousands flee in first mass exodus from Syria's besieged eastern..." Reuters. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- Thousands flee violence in mass exodus from Syrian towns, AFP
- "Thousands flee Eastern Ghouta in largest single-day exodus". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters. "As Syrian rebels quit Ghouta, Douma stands alone". U.S. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
- "叙政府军在东古塔区域发现反政府武装化武作坊" (in Chinese). CCTV. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- "Syria war: Russia says no agreement on ceasefire resolution".
- "UN approves 30-day ceasefire in Syria". BBC. 24 February 2018.
- "Iran says Damascus suburbs assault to continue after U.N. ceasefire call". Reuters. 25 February 2018.
- "Vladimir Putin orders five-hour daily ceasefires in eastern Ghouta". The Guardian. 26 February 2018.
- "Lavrov: "Ahrar Sham", Jaish Al-Islam" Excluded from Ceasefire Regime – Al-Manar TV Lebanon". English.almanar.com.lb. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- "Ansar al-Islam Claims Killing 30 Syrian Soldiers in Hama in Revenge for Eastern Ghouta | Articles". Ent.siteintelgroup.com. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- Zelin, Aaron Y. "New video message from Anṣār al-Islām: "The Raid of Support for al-Ghūṭah"". Jihadology.net. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- "Rebels launch desperate revenge offensive against Syrian Army in north Hama, attack across wide front". Al-Masdar News. 14 March 2018.
- "Rebels unleash battles in Hama province to retaliate against Syrian army operation in Eastern Ghouta". Xinhua News Agency. 14 March 2018.
- "Northwest Hama Update: Jihadi groups take over two towns but suffer heavy losses". Al-Masdar News. 14 March 2018.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army seizes back all lost areas in north Hama as rebel offensive degenerates into wipe-out session". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- Mudiq, Qalaat Al. "NW. #Hama: Rebels retreated from #Kernaz & Hamamiyat villages, back under Regime control".[non-primary source needed]
- "Russia, Iran Urged To Press Syria To End 'Massacre' In Ghouta". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
- "AFP: Targeting of civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta 'must stop': UN". 19 February 2018.
- "Statement by Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, on East Ghouta Amman". 19 February 2018.
- Catherine Hardy Ghouta: 'We are waiting for our turn to die', EuroNews, 21 February 2018
- "UN aid convoy to make fresh attempt to reach battered Syrian rebel enclave". Yahoo News. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Charities condemn 'abhorrent' Syria enclave bloodshed". 20 February 2018.
- "Statement on the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, Syria - EEAS - European External Action Service - European Commission". EEAS - European External Action Service. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
- Editorial, Reuters. "Macron calls for humanitarian truce in Syria's eastern Ghouta". Reuters.
- Editorial, Reuters. "France says Syria's Ghouta bombing violates humanitarian law". Reuters.
- "You are being redirected..." nrttv.com.
- "Pope Francis calls for end to violence in Syria".
- "Plea to end 'hell on earth' Syria crisis". BBC. 22 February 2018.
- "Feuding Gulf states urge Syria to stop Ghouta violence". Agence France-Presse – via Daily Mail.
- 🇸🇦, وزارة الخارجية. "#تصريح – نشدد على ضرورة وقف النظام السوري للعنف، وادخال المساعدات الإنسانية والإغاثية، والأخذ بشكل جاد بمسار الحل السياسي للأزمة، وفق المبادئ المتفق عليها والمتمثلة في اعلان جنيف١ وقرار مجلس الأمن الدولي ٢٢٥٤". Twitter.[non-primary source needed]
- "Saudi Arabia, UAE call on Syria to end Ghouta aerial bombardment". Arab News. 22 February 2018.
- "UAE voices concern over violence in Syria's Ghouta – Xinhua – English.news.cn". Xinhua News Agency.
- Raf Sanchez and Harriet Alexander (22 February 2018). "Britain urges Russia not to veto UN ceasefire resolution and end 'merciless' assault on Eastern Ghouta". The Daily Telegraph.
- "U.S. Says Syrian Government Attacks on Rebel-Held Area Must End". 20 February 2018.
- "Syria: 'flagrant war crimes' being committed in Eastern Ghouta". Amnesty International.