Syrian Coalition Urges UN to Send Fact-finding Mission to Wadi Barada Valley
An official in the Syrian Coalition called upon the United Nations to urgently send a fact-finding mission to Wadi Barada valley in Rural Damascus to investigate the violations of the ceasefire by the Assad regime and its allies on the area.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Badr Jamous said the ongoing assault by the Assad regime and the Hezbollah militias on Wadi Barada valley put many civilian facilities out of service, most notably the Ayn Alfija water pumping station which supplies Damascus and its countryside to with clean water.
Jamous said that the Assad regime uses water as a weapon of warfare against the Syrian people by targeting the main water supply near Damascus.
The United Nations has warned that sabotaging water supplies is a war crime after the main source for the capital Damascus was cut off leaving millions of people facing shortages.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN-backed humanitarian task force for Syria, said on Thursday the shutdown already had "dramatic" consequences.
Egeland said water supplies to 5.5 million people have been hit "because of fighting, or because of sabotage or because of both."
"To sabotage and deny water is of course a war crime, because it is civilians who drink it and civilians who will be affected by waterborne diseases" if supplies are not restored, Egeland told reporters in Geneva.
Wadi Barada valley lies 15 kilometers northwest of Damascus and has been subjected to ferocious assault by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias for the 16th consecutive day in violation of the nationwide ceasefire announced on December 29, 2016.
Local activists warned that the assault on Wadi Barada valley by the regime and allies is aimed at displacing residents of the area as an ultimatum has already been issued for them to leave or be bombed.
The airstrikes on Ayn Alfija water facility has caused a decline of the level of water in the spring as well as caused the water of the Ayn Alfija spring to be contaminated with fuel used to operate the water pumps.
The Assad regime is seeking to apply the same tactic it used to force the local population of a number of Damascus suburbs and eastern Aleppo to leave their homes, activists added.
The Coalition earlier said that the Assad regime and its allies have been desperately trying to sabotage the ceasefire agreement out of determination to pursue a military solution to the conflict.
The Coalition stressed that the armed opposition provided maps detailing its positions as part of the agreement, which refutes claims by the regime and its allies about the presence of extremist groups in Wadi Barada valley. (Source: Syrian Coalition's Media Office + Agencies)