Airstrikes and shelling target rebel enclave, as chemical weapons inspectors wait to enter Douma two weeks after attack

The Syrian army has bombarded jihadis and other rebels in the last area outside government control near Damascus, as President Bashar al-Assad moved to strengthen his position around the capital after the defeat of rebels in eastern Ghouta earlier this month.

The bombing came as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons( OPCW) remained stranded in Damascus almost two weeks after a chemical attack on a town in Ghouta that precipitated the rebel collapse.

Airstrikes and shelling reached the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad area, part of a small enclave divided between warring jihadis and other rebels south of the capital. Live state television footage of the area indicated a plume of smoke billowing across one district as firearms boomed in the distance.

The US, British and French missile ten-strikes designed to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons have done nothing to slow cash advances of his forces , now in their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year war.

Efforts to investigate the chemical attack in Douma on 7 April have been repeatedly delayed, leading to distrusts that the regime and its ally Russia were stalling the OPCW team into order to tamper with proof at the site.

Timeline

The Syrian war

Unprecedented protests demand civil liberties and the release of political prisoners after four decades of repressive rule by the Assad family. The regime represses demoes in Damascus and the southern city of Deraa but protests continue.

Defecting army colonel Riad al-Asaad defines up the Turkey-based rebel Free Syrian Army. Islamist groups join the revolt.

Regime forces-out take control of the rebel stronghold in Homs after a month of bombardment. Other bloody operations are carried out , notably in the central city of Hama, after massive anti-regime protests.

FSA fighters launch a battle for Damascus but the government holds firm.

More than 1,400 people die in a chemical weapon attack on rebel-held districts near Damascus.

The US and Assad ally Russia concur a plan to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, averting punitive US ten-strikes against the regime.

Hostilities between jihadists and rebel groups be transformed into an open war in the north. The group that will become known as Islamic State takes Raqqa- the first provincial capital to fall out of regime control- from rebel forces.

A US-led coalition launches airstrikes against Isis in Syria. The strikes benefit Kurdish groups, which since 2013 have operated autonomous administrations in Kurdish-majority areas.

Russia launches airstrikes in support of Assad's troops, who are on the back foot. Russian firepower helps turn the tables for the regime, which begins to retake rebel-held territory.

The regime retakes Syria's second city, Aleppo.

Russia and Iran, as backers of the Syrian regime, and Turkey, a supporter of the rebels, organise talks in Kazakhstan, between representatives of both sides. The process leads to the creation of four “de-escalation zones”.

A sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun kills more than 80 people, inspiring Washington to attack a regime airbase.

Further complicating an already drawn-out conflict, Turkey launches an operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units which, with US support, played a key role in beating back Isis.

Regime launches a ferocious assault on the remaining rebel-held enclave near Damascus, eastern Ghouta. In under four weeks, the Russian-backed onslaught kills more than 1,200 civilians.

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