On Tuesday evening anti-government fighters in the embattled East Ghouta suburb of Damascus launched a major attack, firing several missiles and artillery shells into a crowded shopping district of government-held Jaramana area, resulting in a civilian massacre.
Though given scant attention in international media since the start of the now 7-year long war, Damascenes have had to endure living under the constant threat of mortar attack from al-Qaeda linked groups operating in the suburbs and Damascus countryside as "the new normal".
While the Syrian government has retaken most of Syria's populous urban centers, and much of the country has returned to some degree of stability, some observers have described the next phase of the war as an "endless insurgency" - expected to continue for years as the al-Qaeda insurgency goes underground.
The intensity of indiscriminate mortar fire from Ghouta on civilian areas of the Damascus city center has markedly increased of late as the Syrian Army continues its ground incursion into the sprawling suburb which has been held for years by jihadist factions seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the defeat of the army. And according to The Guardian, the army is making progress in Ghouta:
Regime and allied forces have retaken more than 80% of the area and splintered the rump of the enclave into three pockets, each controlled by different rebel groups.
The ground fighting as well as consistent government aerial bombardment has resulted in significant civilian casualties, with each side trading blame for disregarding civilian lives. The government for its part has accused the armed groups who have long operated in the Ghouta area of using civilians as human shields, instead of allowing them a safe exit through 'safe corridors' established by the Syrian Army.