Despair and Decay: East Ghouta After 18 Months of Renewed Regime Rule


East Ghouta is perhaps the darkest example of renewed Assad regime rule over former opposition territory. 18 months after the regime recaptured the area, its security forces and intelligence apparatus continue to terrorize Syrians there. Night-time raids on homes, mass arrests, and forced disappearances are common occurrences across the region. Intelligence forces assert themselves in every aspect of daily life, especially at the ubiquitous checkpoints where personnel extort residents for bribes when they pass, subjecting them to security checks that can lead to civilians either being arrested on the spot or conscripted into military service. In addition, residents of East Ghouta are facing a humanitarian crisis amid a total lack of basic services, from sewage to schools and hospitals, and the basic pillars of the local economy remain in total disrepair.