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Saturday 14 January 2017

Regime agrees ceasefire to allow repair of Damascus water supply, then resumes attacks

By Wadi Barada Media Centre

Report for  Friday 13th January 2017: Regime signs ceasefire agreement and sends maintenance teams, and then resumes attacks, targeting the maintenance teams.

At 11 o’clock this morning the bombardment of Wadi Barada stopped. A ceasefire agreement had been reached allowing maintenance teams to enter Wadi Barada and displaced people to return their villages.

The people of Wadi Barada are determined to stay in their area and NOT to sign an agreement with the regime that would forcibly displace them from their homes and villages on green buses, as happened in various towns around Damascus.

However, the ceasefire agreement was broken only a few hours after it was signed. While the regime was negotiating the ceasefire, its forces stormed Wadi Barada. The opposition had announced that a ceasefire in Wadi Barada was a precondition for its participation in peace talks in Astana. Wadi Barada is now facing an unknown fate and we ask that the opposition to announce the failure of the political process in response to the regime’s continued attacks in violation of the ceasefire. All talk of Russian pressure on the regime to stop the attack on Wadi Barada is false.

The following YouTube video shows the entry of maintenance teams to the area. However, the video also showed that tank shells landed on the village of Ain El-Fijeh, where the maintenance teams had arrived to repair the Ain El-Fijeh Spring, despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement.

In an interview, activist Abdel Qader Fahd said that regime forces directly targeted the maintenance teams, which the regime itself had sent, and bombed the villages of Ain El-Fijeh and Basimah and other areas of the Wadi Barada Valley. Fahd added that this was the second time the ceasefire was cancelled. The previous day, the team that the regime had sent to negotiate a ceasefire with rebels in Wadi Barada was also bombed by the regime side. Several militias are fighting alongside the regime, including the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Fahd also said that regime forces had advanced in their assault on the village of Basimah.

A video uploaded later by Abdel Qader Fahd to YouTube shows the maintenance teams repairing the Ain El-Fijeh water plant while gunfire was heard in the background.  In the video, Fahd says that the maintenance teams had resumed their attempts to repair the plant at 8pm despite the ongoing attack on Basimah and that the ceasefire agreement had been a trick to allow the regime to launch a surprise attack on Basimah. The maintenance teams have been directly attacked by the regime and one of their vehicles had broken down because of the gunfire it had sustained. The maintenance teams’ work is aimed at restoring the water supply to Damascus.