Once Syria’s largest producer of poultry, the East Ghouta (collection of farms) of the Rif Dimashq Governorate has now become engulfed in a bloody battle between the Syrian Armed Forces and the Islamist rebels of Jaysh Al-Islam for control of this rural area located on the doorsteps of the Syrian capital.
Perhaps no one has suffered more from this gory battle in the East Ghouta than the civilians trapped between the frontlines; however, it is often noted that the Syrian Armed Forces are starving the civilian population living inside this farm area, but very little evidence is provided by those making this claim to justify this allegation.
For two years, the civilians living inside the East Ghouta have been silenced by those same Islamist rebels that claim to be protecting this territory from the “evil Assad force” besieging their positions in the desolate towns of Jobar, Al-Maleeha, ‘Ayn Tarma, Tal Kurdi, Maydaya, Jisreen, Zibdeen, and Harasta.
What is odd about the aforementioned towns is that if you were to aggregate the number of civilians living there, you would find that the total population numbers less than 1,000 inhabitants.
However, if you were to go to the densely populated city of Douma, the total number of civilians living there would more than triple that of the entire East Ghouta, while also raising the question: “how are these people starving?”
It is a question that baffles most in the agricultural sector of Syria: how does one of Syria’s most fertile areas lack imperative provisions like food? Zibdeen and Jisreen are filled with untouched orchards, while the southeastern countryside of the East Ghouta is filled with unharmed poultry farms that are controlled by Jaysh Al-Islam.
In early 2015, civilians from the rebel-stronghold of Douma fled Jaysh Al-Islam’s security apparatus to the Syrian Army controlled “Wafadeen Refugee Camp” – there they would provide – in great detail – the corruption of the governing party.
The market prices for goods like dairy milk, fruits, vegetables, poultry, and et al. were heavily inflated by Jaysh Al-Islam; if civilians protested these prices, they would be imprisoned in one of Zahran Alloush’s (leader of Jaysh Al-Islam) notorious prisons.
Of course, Zahran Alloush and his fighters have never gone hungry, nor have they been allowed to flee their homes to safer quarters.
Civilians are restricted to travel outside of Jaysh Al-Islam’s controlled territory; if they are caught attempting to flee, they are arrested.
This leaves one to ponder whether or not living under Jaysh Al-Islam’s governance is not a prison in itself.