Syrian regime assault on Wadi Barada jeopardises ceasefire

Syrian regime assault on Wadi Barada jeopardises ceasefire
Buoyed by victory in Aleppo, the Syrian regime appears keen to press home military advantages around Damascus. Wadi Barada, which supplies the capital with water, is the next target
2 min read
31 December, 2016
Syrian regime forces have been buoyed by victory in Aleppo [AFP]

The Syrian regime has been accused of violating a Russia-Turkey backed ceasefire deal, as it intensifies an assault on rebel groups positioned in the Wadi Barada region, north west of Damascus.

Damascus relies on the Ain al-Fijah spring located in Wadi Barada for around 70 percent of its water supplies. Last week, pipes were cut when the regime accused rebels in Wadi Barada of spiking the spring's waters with diesel.

Consequent counter-claims from rebel groups was that the regime had bombed the area's water production facility.

A nationwide ceasefire for Syria came into place late Thursday evening, however activists reported that fighting remained ongoing in Wadi Barada on Friday.

Clashes continued through to Saturday, with pro-regime troops - including members of the Lebanese Shia paramilitary group Hizballah - launching assaults in the Husseiniya and Deir Qanun areas, while rocket attacks were reported around the spring.

The latest round of fighting comes on the tenth day of a major assault on the area led by pro-regime troops as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seeks to secure the remaining pockets of rebel territories around the Syrian capital.

In recent months the Syrian regime has taken control of previously besieged rebel-held enclaves in the Damascus countryside. This was achieved through a combination of military offensives and settlement deals, dubbed "national reconciliation" processes by the regime and "ethnic cleansing" by the opposition. 

Elsewhere in Syria breaches of the ceasefire were reported in Douma city, in the Damascus suburbs.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said that at least one person was killed from regime sniper fire, and in Hama artillery targeted the rebel-held towns of al-Lataminah and Kafr Zita.