Syrian artillery and aircraft are bombarding Eastern Ghouta, the last big rebel enclave which is just to the east of Damascus. Some 127 people were reported to have been killed on Monday alone. By Tuesday evening that figure was said to have doubled. The strength of the attack by shellfire, bombs and missiles is more intense than anything seen in the area for several years, suggesting that an all-out ground assault is in prospect or, as in East Aleppo just over a year ago, there will be a last minute attempt to negotiate a mass evacuation.
The siege of Eastern Ghouta could be the last of the big sieges that have characterised the war in Syria for the last five or six years and has made it such a destructive conflict. Early on in the war, government forces adapted the strategy of abandoning opposition strongholds, surrounding them and concentrating pro-government forces in defence of loyalist areas, essential roads and important urban areas. The rebel enclaves were sealed off with checkpoints and the people inside were subjected to regular bombardment.