Syrian children sit while awaiting to be evacuated from the Eastern Ghouta enclave in Hawsh al-Ashaari, on March 15, 2018.
Louai Beshara—AFP/Getty Images
By Casey Quackenbush
March 16, 2018

Thousands of civilians fled a town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta Thursday as government forces advanced on the rebel-held enclave. It’s the largest exodus since the government ramped up its effort to take back the area, BBC reports.

More than 12,000 people escaped Hamouria, a town outside the capital, Damascus, after government troops broke through rebel lines and opened up a humanitarian corridor, according to the BBC. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they are heading for a government-controlled checkpoint in Adra.

More than 1,100 people have reportedly been killed since the government escalated efforts to reclaim the area on Feb. 18. Since then, the military has divided eastern Ghouta into three parts, penetrating Hamouria’s rebel lines Wednesday night. Hamouria had a population between 31,000 and 34,000 in January, according to the BBC.

Twenty-five lorries carrying humanitarian aid arrived in the town of Douma as people fled, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the aid is not enough to support some 390,000 people in Eastern Ghouta suffering food and medical shortages.


The Syrian Civil War has just entered its eighth year, which has “extracted an immensely painful human toll,” said ICRC president Peter Maurer, according to BBC. The conflict has reportedly displaced some 11 million people and left more than 350,000 dead.

Write to Casey Quackenbush at casey.quackenbush@timeinc.com.

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