Syrian government and allied forces launched a ground assault on Eastern Ghouta after the UN Security Council declared a nationwide ceasefire on February 24. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), government and allied forces have wrested control of over one-third of Eastern Ghouta from Syrian opposition forces as of Monday, March 5. Continued fighting is expected in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria in the coming weeks despite the UN ceasefire.
According to SOHR, over 700 people have been killed in the fighting in Eastern Ghouta since the government intensified its aerial bombing campaign in the area on February 18. Syrian state media has said that the airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta have been in response to a rocket fired from the area on Damascus on January 18, which killed one person and wounded eight others. Many recent airstrikes in the area have targeted medical facilities.
The Ghouta area is one of the last strongholds of Syrian opposition fighters in the Damascus region. Some 400,000 inhabitants are reportedly trapped in the enclave.
According to the UN Security Council, the agreed-upon ceasefire is in effect across Syria, except in areas where armed forces are fighting the Islamic State (IS), Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (Al-Nusra Front), and Al-Qa'ida-allied militants, among other designated terror groups. Despite the official ceasefire, numerous violations have been reported.
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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