e Syrian Army has broken the rebel held enclave of Eastern Ghouta apart. That's according to Syrian State Television, which broadcast from the town of Madeira on Sunday. It said the capture of that town has allowed Syrian Army units to link up with those on the other side of the territory.
That's cut off two major towns from the rest of the area, Harasta and Douma, the latter of which is reportedly entirely surrounded by Syrian troops. Army advances also reported at Jisreen and Aftaris, in the southeastern part of eastern Ghouta. The Syrian Army's gains show how, with Russian backing, the momentum is with Assad's forces.
The splintering of the last major rebel held area near Damascus follows three weeks of intense fighting on several fronts,
government artillery bombardment, continuous air raids, and attacks by helicopters.
cording to one war monitor, the onslaught has killed 1,100 civilians. The violence has prompted international condemnation and calls for a humanitarian cease fire, in order to deliver vital aides to an estimated 400,000 people trapped in the area.
Syria and Russia say they have opened safe routes into government held territory, but no civilians are known to have crossed through them yet. Damascus and Moscow say that's because the rebels fire on anyone who tries to leave. The rebels say people do not want to come back under Assad's rule for fear of persecution.
Doctors in the area have also reported the smell of chlorine and symptoms of choking following bomb attacks. On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mathis warned the Syrian Government that it would be, quote, very unwise to use weaponized gas. Damascus and Moscow firmly deny using chlorine gas, and accuse rebels of planning to orchestrate poison gas attacks in order to draw blame onto the Syrian Government.