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Wednesday, 28 December 2016 17:52

President Abdah Calls for Immediate Action to Protect Civilians in Wadi Barada Valley, Northwest of Damascus

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Abdah on Tuesday sent letters to 23 friendly countries and 4 international organizations urging them to take urgent, decisive action in order to ensure the safety of civilians in the area of Wadi Barada valley to the northwest of the capital Damascus.

Wadi Barada valley is being subjected to the fiercest bombardment and barbaric onslaught by the Assad regime and the Iran-backed militias who insist on continuing their military campaign aimed at forcing the local population out of their homes.

Abdah stressed that the mass forced displacement of civilians constitutes a war crime under the international humanitarian law.

Abdah called for stopping the barbaric onslaught on civilians in Wadi Barada valley and compelling the Assad regime to abide by the terms of the cessation of hostilities. He also called for sanctions on the Assad regime in case of noncompliance.

Moreover, Abdah called for taking real action to ensure that all sieges are lifted and immediate, unfettered humanitarian access as well as medical aid to the valley is allowed. He stressed the need to stop all forms of mass forced displacement of the civilian population; to conduct investigations into previous cases which amount to war crimes; and to hold to account those responsible for those crimes.

Reports coming out of Wadi Barada valley confirmed that heavy artillery and aerial bombardment on Ayn Alfija water pumping station by the Assad regime and its allies caused the contamination of the water of the spring with diesel, oil, and gasoline used to operate the pumps as well as large amounts of chlorine used to process the water. Abdah called for allowing the maintenance and repair of the water pumping station which should be operated and managed by the local population as was the case before.

Abdah stressed that such gross violations and crimes must not be allowed to be repeated, calling for the establishment of an office for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the valley and the other besieged areas to guarantee the implementation of UNSC resolutions, mainly UNSCR 2254 (2015) and UNSCR 2268.

The brutal escalation on Wadi Barada valley has so far caused the death of 23 civilians, 5 of whom are children, and injured more than 60 civilians, many of whom are in a critical condition. Moreover, the bombing has caused massive destruction in the villages of Kafr Alzait, Dayr Qanun, Ayn Alfija, and Bseima.

“The Assad regime and its Iranian ally are seeking to force civilians in Wadi Barada to leave their homes through the barbaric bombing and destruction of vital civilian facilities, and imposing a tight siege; it is a strategy that the regime has been using in all liberated areas in Aleppo, Rural Damascus and Homs,” Abdah said.

Civil institutions in Wadi Barada valley earlier stressed their rejection of any form of mass forced displacement of the population. They called for an end to the Assad regime policies aimed at changing the demography of key areas across Syria, and to prevent the repetition of another Srebrenica massacre in the valley. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office)