Siege and forcible displacement

I’m now back at work on Syria and in particular the attacks on hospitals and healthcare (I’ll be drawing on some of this for my Antipode lecture in Cardiff next month).  More on that soon, but in the meantime there are two reports that (more than) deserve notice.

First, Siege Watch has produced its tenth quarterly report, and Part I is devoted to East Ghouta (February-April 2018).  Its 84 pages make for chilling reading:

Data collected during the quarter from a network of Eastern Ghouta contacts and other sources showed that:

At least 1,700 people were killed, 5,000 injured, and 158,000 displaced, leaving entire towns empty. In some areas, upwards of 90% of the structures were destroyed.

The brutal campaign created a ‘demonstration effect’ and was used to push other besieged areas to surrender with significantly less force.

At least eight suspected chemical attacks were launched against civilians and ghters in Eastern Ghouta during the reporting period. In total, an estimated 45 civilians were killed and nearly 700 injured in these attacks.

More than 65,000 people, most of them civilians, were forcibly displaced to Idlib and Aleppo in northern Syria as part of the final surrender agreements.

In the wake of the capture of Eastern Ghouta and Jobar by pro-government forces, there were reports of field executions, detentions, threats, and widespread looting. Thousands of men from Eastern Ghouta were forced into mandatory military service.

The end of the siege of Eastern Ghouta highlights the government’s demographic engineering strategy. Roughly 200,000 people remained in the enclave by the end of the reporting period – around half of the estimated population from before the offensive began, and just 18% of the area’s pre-war population.

I’ll draw on some of the details from the report in my later post.

Notice those forced displacements to Idlib, described as ‘an elaborately constructed killbox.’  The International Crisis Group recently published its first illustrated commentary, Voices of Idlib, which you can find here.

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