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The siege of east Ghouta

East Ghouta is located 15 kilometers west from the capital, Damascus. It is inhabited by around 400,000 people. It was occupied by the anti-government forces at the beginning of the war in Syria (ongoing since 2011). Currently the most influential groups based in this area are the fundamentalist Jaysh al-Islam (the Islam Army) and the Al-Rahman Legion, which is associated with the Free Syrian Army. Fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda are also present in east Ghouta. The Syrian army has continued the siege of this area since mid-2013. At the moment, the city is bombarded by air raids, which have caused one of the worst humanitarian crises during the Syrian war. According to the data from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 521 people including 131 children, have died in east Ghouta since February 18th. António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, described the situation in east Ghouta as “hell on Earth”.