As of Thursday, March 8, Syrian government forces have captured significant territory in opposition rebel-controlled Eastern Ghouta. Government forces advancing from the eastern part of Eastern Ghouta are reportedly prepared to soon meet allied troops on the area's western periphery, effectively dividing the zone into two remaining rebel enclaves. The expected move comes amid a major offensive waged by government forces in recent days, which has killed over 1000 people and wounded over 4800 others in the area since February 18, according to a statement issued by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Wednesday, March 7. Continued fighting is expected in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria in the coming weeks despite the UN ceasefire.
Syrian government forces began to escalate their aerial bombing campaign of Eastern Ghouta on February 18. 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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