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March 12, 2018
3 years

What is the issue?

  • An agreement was reached between armed groups in Eastern Ghouta and a UN delegation to evacuate some militants from the besieged enclaves.
  • This is the first major deal reached since the attack on the city began, and more such deals are to be clinched to reduce casualties and bring peace.                       

How did the situation evolve? 

  • Ghouta is a suburb which lies close to the Syrian capital Damascus, which came under rebel control since early in the civil war (that began in 2011).
  • The territory recently came under attack by government forces to flush out the multiple rebel groups that have their presence. 
  • As Ghouta is one of the last rebel strongholds and houses close to 4 lakh civilians, the battle is proving to be brutal and catastrophic.  
  • Recently, the city came under virtual siege and essential supplies were cut, and reports of rebels deploying people as human shields also emerged.
  • More than 1000 people were estimated to be killed in the past week alone but Syrian Government and its Russian backers seem unrelenting in vigour. 
  • UN Security Council unanimously called for a seize fire, which helped in reducing the intensity and helped start a dialogue with the rebels.


What has come out of the negotiations?

  • UN peace makers have struck a deal with the main rebel group ‘Jaish al-Islam’, to facilitate the evacuation of militants belonging to “HTS” from Ghouta.
  • ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ (HTS) was formerly an Al-Qaeda front and is an internationally designated terrorist group.
  • Notably, despite endorsing ceasefire in the UN Security Council, Russia has been justifying its assaults on Ghouta by sighting the presence of HTS.
  • HTS evacuees are expected to proceed to Idlib, which is another rebel held town in north-western Syria (see map).
  • The deal has come after more than a month of protracted negotiations even as the rebels stayed stubborn in the face of intense government bombardment.

How does the future look?

  • The evacuation of HTS militants removes a hurdle for Syrian regime and Russia to cease hostilities and engage the other armed groups diplomatically.
  • Notably, besides Jaish al-Islam - “Faylaq al-Rahman”, an affiliate of the Free Syrian Army is also a major player in Ghouta.  
  • The rebels in Ghouta currently do not have any meaningful support coming from outside that could allow them to resist regime forces.
  • The sooner the government forces and the armed gangs reach an agreement to end hostilities, the better it is for all sides.


Source: The Hindu

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