Syrian regime resumes Wadi Barada shelling after talks fail

Syrian regime resumes Wadi Barada shelling after talks fail
Syrian regime forces continued their bombardment of the rebel-held valley Wadi Barada on Sunday after planned talks between the regime and rebels failed.
2 min read
08 January, 2017
More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011 [AFP]
Planned talks between Syrian regime forces and rebels in the Wadi Barada valley, near Damascus, failed on Sunday, leading to a resumption of shelling by regime forces, local sources told The New Arab.

The talks began early on Sunday between the regime and rebel representatives.

The rebels refused to "allow repair crews into Wadi Barada to fix the damaged main water supply for the capital", a source told The New Arab.

A separate local source told The New Arab that regime shelling resumed after the talks failed and regime war planes launched several air raids on the town of Ain al-Fijah and the village of Basimah in the southern Damascus suburbs.

Overnight, the Observatory said seven Syrian soldiers and two civilians were killed in clashes. 

Fighting in the region has continued despite a truce, which does not apply to Islamic State group or former al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra Front.

Damascus says Fatah al-Sham is present in Wadi Barada, and blames rebels there for cutting water to Damascus since 22 December.

Rebels deny the militant group is in the valley and say the mains supply was severed after government strikes hit pumping facilities in the area.

The damage has left 5.5 million people in Damascus and its suburbs without water, according to the UN.

A source close to the regime said that a temporary ceasefire was agreed to allow the repair crews to enter Wadi Barada, though it could take days before the mains supply is restored.

State media on Saturday said, however, that maintenance teams attempted to reach the area 15 kilometres (10 miles) north-west of Damascus but were forced back by sniper fire. 

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The fighting has displaced more than half the population, internally or abroad, and proved stubbornly resistant to international attempts to broker a political solution.

Turkey and Russia want to convene negotiations in Astana later this month, but rebels have suspended participation in preparatory talks, blaming regime "violations" in Wadi Barada.