Aid groups warn situation in eastern Ghouta could unfold into worst atrocity of war so far
Almost 200 civilians have been killed in dozens of airstrikes and shelling by forces loyal to Syrias Bashar al-Assad in eastern Ghouta over two days of hysterical violence, which has led to warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe that could eclipse past atrocities in the seven-year war.
The surge in the killing in the besieged region came amid reports of an impending regime incursion into the area outside Damascus, which is home to 400,000 civilians. More than 700 people have been killed in three months, according to local counts, not including the deaths in the last week.
Amnesty International said flagrant war crimes were being committed in eastern Ghouta on an epic scale.
Diana Semaan, the charitys Syria researcher, said: People have not only been suffering a cruel siege for the past six years, they are now trapped in a daily barrage of attacks that are deliberately killing and maiming them, and that constitute flagrant war crimes.
Seven hospitals have also been bombed since Monday morning in eastern Ghouta, which was once the breadbasket of Damascus but has been under siege for years by the Assad government and subjected to devastating chemical attacks. Two hospitals suspended operations and one has been put out of service.
We are standing before the massacre of the 21st century, said a doctor in eastern Ghouta. If the massacre of the 1990s was Srebrenica, and the massacres of the 1980s were Halabja and Sabra and Shatila, then eastern Ghouta is the massacre of this century right now.
He added: A little while ago a child came to me who was blue in the face and barely breathing, his mouth filled with sand. I emptied it with my hands. I dont think they had what we do in any of the medical textbooks. A wounded child breathing with lungs of sand. You get a child, a year old, that they saved from the rubble and is breathing sand, and you dont know who he is.
All these humanitarian and rights organisations, all that is nonsense. So is terrorism. What is a greater terrorism than killing civilians with all sorts of weapons? Is this a war? Its not a war. Its called a massacre.