image: children caught up in violence in Eastern Ghouta (CNN)

Syria: ISIS may be on the verge of defeat but violence remains

A House of Commons library briefing on the current situation in Syria suggests the country is still gripped by violence, even though ISIS/Daesh is on the retreat. 

The briefing states that although ‘ISIS/Daesh has become more like an insurgent group’ and ‘the old Islamic State with all the extra threat that territory meant, is no more’ there is a new threat. It is the threat by the Syrian Government, turning its attention to strongholds of Syrian opposition such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is linked to al-Qaeda. 

This has resulted in serious and escalating violence in areas such as Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. Eastern Ghouta is believed to be one of the last strongholds of opposition to the Syrian Government and whilst the area has been under siege since 2013 there has been a notable increase in violence in recent weeks, with hundreds of people being killed. 

The UN has stated that actions in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria are probably war crimes. The briefing states: ‘The Security Council voted unanimously for a month-long ceasefire on 24 February but short daily ceasefires organised by Russia, with artillery fire continuing, have not been enough to make much difference. One corridor was established to allow civilians to leave Ghouta, but residents are scared to leave, wary of revenge killings.’

Sadly, reports of chemical weapons being used have been coming out of the region and the UN believes that 13.1 million people need humanitarian aid. The UN humanitarian response plan for Syria needs $3.5 billion and as at the end of February it was still $3.3 billion short of that target. The briefing reports that the ‘UK has allocated £487 million for work in Syria to UN agencies and £65 million to NGO’s for the financial year 17/18.’

Click this link to access the briefing on the UK Parliament website