The Russian and Syrian bombing campaigns have reportedly escalated in Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus) since Monday, February 5, leaving at least 100 people dead. The towns and cities of Arbeen, Duma, Marj Al-Sultan, and Hzarma are reportedly the main targets of the airstrikes.
The United Nations has urged both sides to cease fire in order to evacuate people in critical condition.
Eastern Ghouta is home to three rebel factions that regularly attack the nearby capital, Damascus. To recapture Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian regime has engaged in what the UN envoy to Syria has called a "surrender or starve" strategy, which has proven effective for the Al-Assad regime over the past few years during the ongoing civil war. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 350 people have been killed in the area since the end of December 2017.
Humanitarian organizations continue to warn the international community about the increasingly dire situation in Eastern Ghouta, where some 400,000 people are suffering from hunger and cold. Humanitarian convoys to the area are blocked by the Syrian regime and no residents are being allowed to leave.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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