Now there’s a lucrative target category – people stepping our of their basement shelters for a breath of air.
The Ghouta region, a short thirty-minute drive from the presidential palace, is the only major area near Damascus left in rebel hands. Every other suburb has been cleared out by the regime through a combination of indiscriminate aerial bombardment, chemical-weapons attacks and siege warfare. Ghouta itself has been surrounded by pro-government forces since 2013, the year Assad’s troops fired a volley of ground-to-ground, sarin-tipped missiles in the dead of night, killing upwards of 1,400 people, according to U.S. intelligence community assessments. A minuscule amount of food gets in, the sick and seriously injured are blocked from going to hospitals, and medical supplies are stopped at the government’s lines. All the while, airstrikes and bombings continue to target everything in sight: markets, homes, hospitals, rescue workers, ambulances, and even people stepping out of their basement shelters for a breath of air.
Mosul: Pinpoint Coalition air strike.
While there is not a dry hanky in Media Land over Eastern Ghouta the realities of urban warfare, esp. against the jihadi enemy, are simply ghastly. Snipers can focus on individual targets with actual faces and unmistakable military involvement. Fighter bombers and indirect fire weapons cannot. They are blunt weapons dependent on pilot skill or skill of the forward observer. Even observers close to the action cannot know who or what is in the jungle of closely-packed civilian residences where, let it be said, the jihadis are not shy about establishing firing positions, passageways, tunnels, and headquarters.
The righteous coalition battles to retake Mosul and Raggah caused terrible devastation. Mosul may have involved 40,000 civilian dead but there was no outcry for coalition forces to desist. Yet, it is Assad whom DePetris tendentiously condemns.
To his credit he points out many reasons why the U.S. should not undertake to use military force against Assad but he publishes idiotic views on the reality of urban warfare. He does not mention how jihadis in Aleppo targeted civilians trying to flee areas controlled by them and how they have used civilians as hostages and human shields. Nor does DePetris mention that government forces have dropped leaflets on E. Ghouta to advise civilians where there are safe passage points out of the fighting.
Nor does he mention that jihadis make a practice of locating supply dumps and headquarters inside schools and hospitals to try to discourage government attacks. And, he treats the issue of chemical weapon use by Assad’s forces as a given, which is most certainly it is not. There are multiple instances of jihadi theater designed to indict Assad on chemical weapons usage and other aspects of the war. Prior deception therefore casts doubt on current and recent excesses. Prof. Postol’s analysis of the 2013 E. Ghouta chemical incident disposes of the “Assad did it” position on its technical merits.
The comments on DePetris’s article on Yahoo are entertaining. The skepticism about the need for U.S. involvement is gratifying. But make no mistake. The U.S. is smarting from its failure to prevail in getting rid of Assad. It then turned its attention to supporting the Kurds to dismember Syria. Now it seems the coalition sees that spinning lies about E. Ghouta may be yet another opportunity to get rid of “Assad the Butcher.” Assad and the Syrian Arab Army as unique instigators of the horrors of urban warfare . . . coming soon to a theater near you.
 "Should America Use Force to Stop Assad from Demolishing Ghouta?" By Daniel R. DePetris, Yahoo, 2/28/18.
 "The massacre of Mosul: 40,000 feared dead in battle to take back city from Isis as scale of civilian casualties revealed." By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 7/19/17.