The assault on the Wadi Barada valley by the Assad regime forces and Hezbollah militias continues unabated despite the ceasefire agreement which took effect on December 29, 2016. Activists said that Assad’s air force conducted no fewer than 25 airstrikes and barrel bomb attacks on the villages of Ayn Alfija and Deir Miqrin on Tuesday.
Residents of the area have been forced to stay indoors for fear of sniper fire by the Assad regime forces and the Hezbollah militias besieging the area.
The FSA and rebel fighters repelled an attack by regime forces and their allies aimed at capturing the Ayn Alfija water facility under intense artillery cover. Activists said that at least 10 pro-regime militants were killed and around 20 others wounded in the failed attack. Rebels also destroyed three regime tanks and two Shilka armored vehicles at the entrance of the village of Ayn Alfija.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said that water remains cut off from Ayn Alfija water facility, depriving 5.5 million people in Damascus and surrounding areas from their main water source since 22 December 2016.
Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said Tuesday that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and water authorities’ technical teams, who suspended their mission following a security incident, remain on stand-by to enter the area again to complete their mission as soon as security conditions allow. He added that the UN stands ready to provide additional support to ensure the swift repair of the water infrastructure.
The UN estimates that over 40,000 civilians are still trapped in the Wadi Barada valley northwest of Damascus. Hundreds of civilians have been forced to flee the area due to heavy bombardment by regime forces and their allies.
The Syrian Coalition earlier condemned the continued breaches of the truce by the Assad regime forces and their allied foreign militias across Syria, especially in the Wadi Bardi valley.
The Coalition underscored the need for guarantors of the ceasefire agreement to shoulder their responsibilities towards stopping breaches of the agreement. These breaches included the assassination of the retired Major General Ahmed Ghadban by the Hezbollah militias on Sunday. Ghadban was mandated to negotiate with the Assad regime and the Hezbollah militias on behalf of the residents trapped in the area.
The international community must take action to stop breaches of the truce and violations of UN Security Council resolutions by the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed militias, the Coalition stressed. Pressure must be exerted on Assad and his allies to consolidate the truce and restart the political process in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)