The death toll has ticked past 400, as residents of eastern Ghouta accept every day could be their last.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on February 23, 2018

The 400,000 people trapped in eastern Ghouta describe the Syrian government’s air strikes on the rebel-held enclave as an “extermination”.

In less than a week, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed more than 400 people, including 150 children, and wounded more than 2000 others.

At least six hospitals in the area have also been damaged or shut down.

The farming area, which is located on the outskirts of Damascus, represents the opposition’s largest remaining stronghold in close proximity to the capital. So, the government — now backed by Russia and Iran — is stopping at nothing to take it back.

A “hysterical attack” has ensued, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, described the territory as “hell on earth” and demanded an immediate suspension of “all war activities”.

The UN security council was expected to vote on a draft resolution, which would’ve secured a 30-day ceasefire and allowed deliveries of aid and medical evacuations.

However, Moscow blocked the proposal through its envoy. Vassily Nebenzia firmly stated that his government would not support the resolution in its current state.

He also suggested much of the reporting on Ghouta was fake news, and the situation is nowhere near as dire as its being portrayed.

“The mass psychosis in global media outlets acting in coordination, disseminating the same rumours in recent days, in no way does anything to help improve understanding of this situation,” he told the security council.

Only one aid convoy in the last three months has been permitted entry, and residents are crying out for help.

Nisma al-Hatri told Al Jazeera that she has accepted that any day she could die alongside her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

“Every day goes like this: bombings, then I clean the house from the effect of the nearby shelling, then we hide in one room attempting to survive or die together,” Hatri said.

“My daughter Sara and I wake up with our arms around each other from the night before.

“We all sleep on one mattress. She hugs me and asks me why she can’t go out to play, or to school or to see her friends. I cannot answer her.”

Mahmood Adam, a member of the Syrian Civil Defence, says the “rocket launchers are relentless”.

“We are talking about a systematic targeting of civilians in their homes, schools, medical centres, marketplaces, and civil defence sites,” he said. “This is an extermination of the society in this area.”

“There are families who have been hiding in basements and underground shelters who haven’t seen the sun in days for fear of the brutality of the regime and the Russian warplanes,” he continued.

There are families who have been hiding in basements and underground shelters who haven’t seen the sun in days for fear of the brutality of the regime and the Russian warplanes.

“We don’t know whether we will be alive to tell the world what is happening in the next hour or day.

“The rocket launchers are relentless, and the warplanes have not left the skies of Eastern Ghouta since Sunday.

“Everyone here knows this is a slaughter and a crime against humanity… This is a war against civilians.”