According to various sources, it appears that the Syrian government led by Assad is preparing to capture Douma, the last remaining rebel strong hold in Eastern Ghouta. A government-affiliated newspaper reported on Wednesday that government troops were being dispatched to the area around the town, which is largely controlled by the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.
It is clear that the Assad government is preparing for a fight if the rebels will not evacuate the enclave near Damascus. The Russian army has been actively negotiating with the Jaish al-Islam group, in hopes of moving forward in evacuations. However, those negotiations have not yielded much in the way of results.
An estimated 140,000 people are still inside the city, and they have limited access to food, water, and medical care and supplies. The Assad government has used sieges to break the rebels in other areas of Syria, but the civilians suffer the brunt of the military activity related to the siege.
Last week, following more than six weeks of bombardment, two rebel groups managed to reach an evacuation deal with the Russian army, which resulted in about 19,000 people leave towards the northern province of Idlib.
Other news regarding Syria includes the fact that Turkey is taking advantage of the distraction being provided by the rebels to make deeper inroads into Syria hunting groups that the Turkish government has designated as terrorists.
Turkish forces have captured the enclave of Afrin last weekend, but it appears that Russia and the United States may not allow them to go much further. Turkey, who does not have a great history with the Kurds, may end up in a guerilla warfare within Syria, as an extension of a decades long battle with the Kurdish insurgency, led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or P.K.K.
Additionally, since the Afrin citizens are sympathetic with the P.K.K., it seems clear that Turkey will struggle to hold this enclave within Syria. Still, Turkey’s influence indicates that if Syria’s war is going to end, Turkey is going to have to be one of the parties at the table.
The situation in Syria is fraught with tension, both for the rebels and Syrian citizens, but also for those who must now deal with the repercussions from Assad as they lose ground to the Syrian troops backed by Iran and Russia. The international community is witnessing a humanitarian crisis, and no one is holding the major players, notably Assad and Iran, accountable for their actions.