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eastern Ghouta

The attack unfolding in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, is being described as 'the massacre of the 21st century'

Human rights monitors report that nearly 200 people have been killed in the rebel-held region of Eastern Ghouta, Syria, in the past 48 hours, with Monday marking the bloodiest single day since an alleged chemical attack in the region in 2015, CNN reports. "What is a greater terrorism than killing civilians with all sorts of weapons?" one doctor working in the region asked The Guardian. "Is this a war? It's not a war. It's called a massacre."

Although Eastern Ghouta has been a target of the Syrian regime for more than five years, the region was officially declared a safe "de-escalation" zone for civilians in a deal between Russia, Turkey, and Iran last year. All that is now a distant memory: "Residents of Eastern Ghouta are bracing themselves for what they believe is an imminent ground invasion by Syrian regime forces," CNN writes. "They said that events in their suburb are playing out similarly to the 2016 offensive in Aleppo, when rebels and [Islamic State] militants were expelled by a government offensive that reduced much of the city to rubble."

At least four hospitals, and possibly as many as seven, have reportedly been destroyed in the shelling and airstrikes. "We are standing before the massacre of the 21st century," the doctor who spoke with The Guardian warned.

Over the past three months, more than 700 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta, which is home to some 400,000 civilians. The last week marked what Amnesty International called "flagrant war crimes" on an "epic scale." In a statement Monday, the CEO of the Union of Medical Care & Relief Organizations, Zaidoun al-Zoabi, said: "This could be one of the worst attacks in Syrian history, even worse than the siege on Aleppo. The sheer intensity of airstrikes is leveling the city, and killing civilians without any regard or mercy."