Syrian civilians hunker down as humanitarian crisis in Ghouta deepens

EASTERN GHOUTA, Syria -- The United Nations and the U.S. State Department said Thursday a ceasefire in a suburb of Syria's capital is not working. Syria's military has decimated rebel-held Ghouta with airstrikes, and 400,000 civilians are trapped there.

War can be eerily quiet. CBS News went to one of four humanitarian corridors set up to allow aid in to rebel held territory, and let civilians out. Ambulances were lined up, and buses were there to help evacuate people, but nobody came, and fearful residents stayed where they were.


Buses waited for civilians at a humanitarian corridor in Syria

CBS News

Syrian soldiers also took us to what is now the front line in this fight for Eastern Ghouta. As soon as we arrived we heard shelling. Ahead at the checkpoint there were no signs of civilians, only the sounds of conflict.

Syrian troops told us that they are fighting one of the main opposition groups. Retaking Ghouta from the rebels would be a prize for Syrian government forces who are battling to to solidify control of the capital.

Cellphone video from inside Ghouta Thursday shows the ruined neighborhoods, and activists posted interviews with defiant residents.

"This is a ceasefire," one man asked. "Look at the chaos and destruction, and these 'humanitarian crossings' they talk about, who said we are leaving? We are staying right here."

Back on the government side, people are waiting for Ghouta to fall, worn-down by the war raging just across the street.