World View: The Ghouta ‘Ceasefire’ Turns into a Syrian Army Scam to Steal Humanitarian Aid

Russian soldiers stand guard as Syrian Arab Reb Crescent trucks carrying aid drive head towards the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 5, 2018

This morning’s key headlines from

  • The Ghouta ‘ceasefire’ turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid
  • Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

The Ghouta ‘ceasefire’ turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid

Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)
Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)

Syria permitted a humanitarian aid convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta for the first time on Monday, but the Syrian army confiscated 70 percent of the humanitarian supplies as they entered the region, suggesting that the entire humanitarian aid program is a scam to use Western money to provide supplies to the Syrian army.

It was only in the last two weeks that Russia announced that it would permit a “ceasefire” in Eastern Ghouta for five hours a day, from 9 AM to 2 PM. This ceasefire would permit civilians to leave, and humanitarian aid to be brought in.

So here are the results so far:

  • There has been no ceasefire. Syrian and Russian warplanes continue bombing between 9 AM and 2 PM each day. The “ceasefire” agreement was a lie.
  • Civilians are not leaving because they are afraid to leave. Interviews with Eastern Ghouta civilians indicate that they do not trust the Syrian army, and believe that if they try to leave, the Syrian army will kill them. This is what happened in Aleppo.
  • Humanitarian aid was allowed in on Monday for the first time, but 70 percent of the supplies were confiscated by the army.

The humanitarian aid convoy contained 46 trucks. The convoy reached its destination in Douma, in the north of Eastern Ghouta, amid continuing bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. The trucks were said to contain food for just 27,500 people, out of the 400,000 people under siege in Eastern Ghouta.

However, not all the food could be unloaded because the convoy had to leave abruptly to avoid incessant bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. So Syria prevented even that extremely limited amount of humanitarian aid from being delivered.

There is really nothing surprising about what is going on. During Syria’s siege of Aleppo in 2016, there were similar ceasefires that were not ceasefires, and people who tried to leave were permitted to leave, but then were killed as they were leaving. There was humanitarian aid, but Syria’s army confiscated most of it before it could reach its destination, and on some occasions the humanitarian aid convoy was targeted by Syrian and Russian warplanes. Arab News and Reuters and BBC and AFP

Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

Although Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad considers pretty much all the 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta to be terrorists, his army is particularly targeting an anti-Assad militia called “Jaysh al-Islam,” or “Army of Islam.”

After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, anti-Assad militias began to form. These militias were generally very small, but in 2013, Jaysh al-Islam was formed through a merger of about fifty Damascus-based opposition groups. In addition to opposing al-Assad, it was equally opposed to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and was responsible for expelling ISIS from the Damascus area.

Today, Jaysh al-Islam has about 10,000 fighters in Eastern Ghouta and is the major group opposing the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta. Eastern Ghouta has been under the control of Jaysh al-Islam and other anti-Assad militias since 2012.

The Syrian government now says that its army has reclaimed a third of Eastern Ghouta in the last few days. Furthermore, the army “has been rapidly advancing through the East Ghouta region of Damascus recently, capturing several areas that were under the control of Jaysh Al-Islam,” according to Syrian media.

The current objective of the Syrian army is to split Eastern Ghouta into two pieces so that it is divided horizontally. Syrian media says that the army has taken control of several villages and farms “eliminating large numbers of terrorists and destroying their bases, tunnels, trenches, and ordinance.” If it is successful in splitting the region, then the Jaysh al-Islam in the north will be cut off from supplies, giving the Syrian army control of the northern half. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and Mehr News (Iran) and Stanford – Jaysh al-Islam and Deutsche Welle

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Ghouta, Russia, Bashar al-Assad, Eastern Ghouta, Hama, Idlib, barrel bombs, chlorine, Sarin gas, Aleppo, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jaysh al-Islam, Army of Islam, Douma
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.