Homs, Aleppo, Daraya, besieged Enclaves bombarded by Syrian regime before Ghouta

Photo showing smoke rises from the rebel held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Feb 21, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Homs, Aleppo, Daraya, besieged Enclaves bombarded by Syrian regime before Ghouta

BEIRUT: Before Eastern Ghouta there was Homs, Aleppo, Daraya — rebel towns and enclaves that the Syrian regime pounded and besieged, forcing fighters to give up their arms and civilians to flee.

Syria’s third city Homs was dubbed the “capital of the revolution,” after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, but from 2012 it came under a two-year siege.
In 2014, rebels cornered by advancing regime forces agreed to be evacuated, although the government went on to besiege Waer, the last remaining opposition-held district in the city.
During the siege nearly 2,200 people were killed in the Homs’s Old City, according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.
In the historic center of the city, completely in ruins, those remaining had virtually nothing left to eat and lived off grass and dry foods.
Between March and May 2017, thousands of rebels and civilians fled the district of Waer, allowing the regime’s forces to retake full control of Homs.

Once Syria’s commercial hub, Aleppo was devastated by more than four years of fighting, particularly along the front line that separated the rebel-held east from the government-held west.
Early in 2016, the regime’s forces, supported by Lebanese movement Hezbollah and Russian warplanes, launched an offensive in Aleppo.
Much of the city was reduced to wasteland.
Rebel districts were under near-continuous siege by the army. Heavy shelling by the army destroyed all established hospitals in the area.
Towards the end of 2016, after a month of respite, bombardments picked up again and international observers talked about “crimes against humanity” committed by the regime and its Russian allies.
In December 2016, the Syrian army declared it was in full control of Aleppo.

Daraya was one of the first towns in Syria to erupt in demonstrations against the government in 2011; it also became one of the first to be placed under a strict regime siege in 2012.
The Syrian army recaptured the town in 2016 after the evacuation of thousands of rebels and civilians who had been under a relentless siege and incessant bombardment.
In 2017, the army recaptured the region of Wadi Barada near Damascus as well as several rebel districts in the capital.
Thousands of civilians and fighters were bussed to the northwestern province of Idlib.
In recent months, the regime has recaptured several rebel areas around Damascus under so-called “reconciliation” deals involving the evacuation of fighters in exchange for an end to bombardments and sieges.
In a report titled “We leave or we die,” Amnesty analyzed four local accords which the rights body said were preceded by unlawful sieges and bombardment aimed at forcing civilians to abandon their homes.
“The Syrian government and, to a lesser degree, armed opposition groups have enforced sieges on densely populated areas, depriving civilians of food, medicine and other basic necessities in violation of international humanitarian law,” Amnesty said.


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
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War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”