Syria Daily: Breaking Ceasefire, Pro-Assad Forces Renew Attacks Near Damascus

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PHOTO: A regime bombing near the al-Fija springs in Wadi Barada in late December


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UPDATE 1845 GMT: A A senior rebel official denied a report from a Hezbollah outlet that a brief ceasefire had been reached between rebels and pro-Assad forces in Wadi Barada.

Hezbollah’s military news service said a truce had been reached for “a number of hours”, but Munir Sayal, head of the political wing of the Ahrar al-Sham faction, said the report was “a lie”.

Sayal asserted that on Thursday the regime rejected a ceasefire that would have allowed for repairs to the water pumping station and for people to return to two nearby villages.


UPDATE 1545 GMT: Rallies have been convened in opposition districts across Syria in support of the besieged and attacked Wadi Barada area.

A demonstration in Damascus Province:

damascus-province-demo-06-01-17

Referring to the cut-off of water in Damascus — “Assad thirsts you and kills us”:

assad-thirsts-you-and-kills-us

Ma’arat al-Num’an in Idlib Province — “No solution without the departure of Asaad”:

Jobar, northeast of Damascus:


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Breaking Syria’s eight-day ceasefire, regime and Hezbollah forces have renewed their three-week assault on the Wadi Barada area, northwest of Damascus.

Residents and rebels reported an intensification of bombing and shelling in the past 48 hours, with “scores” of jets attacking three of the 10 villages and near the al-Fija springs, which provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water. A pro-Assad site, reporting the attacks, is also proclaiming the deployment of an elite brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division to the battlefront.

An outlet for the Free Syrian Army tweeted on Friday afternoon:

In late December, the Syrian Air Force’s attacks damaged the pumping station for the springs, sending water overflowing into roads. The resulting shortage in Damascus has meant that about 4 million people have no more than two hours’ supply each day, with the price of bottled water more than doubling.

See Syria Investigation: Who Cut Off Damascus’s Water?

On Thursday, the UN’s head of humanitarian operations in Syria, Jan Egeland, said, “To sabotage and deny water is of course a war crime.” He said 5.5 million people in Damascus have no or limited supply and warned civilians “will be affected by waterborne diseases”.

To cover up the damage and the cut-off of water, the Assad regime and its supporters spread the unsupported claim that rebels had “poisoned” the supply with diesel fuel.

Maintaining the Attacks

Despite the ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia, the regime and Hezbollah have not stopped the airstrikes, shelling, and ground offensive. Pro-opposition activists also say an Iranian headquarters is involved in the siege and organization of the attacks.
Damascus and its allies are using the pretext that they are targeting the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Nusra, whom the regime says is excluded from the truce.

However, JFS (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra) left Wadi Barada by late 2015, according to local sources, activists, the opposition, and rebels. There is no evidence of an organized return to the area, although individual members may remain: journalist Nour Samaha claims from a local source that a “small” number are present, and analyst Charles Lister says there are no more than 30.

A pro-Assad activist, often used as a channel for the regime’s thinking, effectively admitted the propaganda over JFS/Nusra this week but said that the attacks breaking the ceasefire will continue:

Despite the intensity of the shelling and bombing, the pro-Assad forces have made limited if any gains since mid-December. Still, regime official Alaa Munir Ibrahim said on Thursday, “We hope in a few days water will return back to the capital after the army takes back Ain al Fija. The army is advancing and…we expect good news.”

The Wadi Barada area has about 45,000 civilians, according to the UN, but local civic groups say the number is close to 100,000.

Only about 1,200 families have left the area despite the ongoing assault.

Turkey has condemned the attacks and warned that they could derail political talks proposed between the Assad regime and opposition later this month in Kazakhstan. Russia, an essential ally for the regime, has offered no comment about the assault.


Report: US Strike Kills 3, Including Top Jabhat Fatah-Sham Official

In the latest US air attack on the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, an American strike has reportedly killed three people, including an aide to JFS/Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani.

The aide, Yunus Shoeib a.k.a. Abu Al-Hassan, was killed near Taftanaz in Idlib Province. His 15-year-old son and a former JFS sharia court cleric, Mohammad Kamal Shoeib, also died.

In the past week, the US has killed two JFS commanders and a strike on a jihadist compound near Sarmada, also in Idlib Province. left at least 25 dead.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. As I was watching the above video of the Friday Demonstration Rally in Ma’arat al-Nu’man, in which the crowd swears to fight for the destruction of the regime, I was chanting in the back of my mind “Allah mohiyye jaysh” = “God bless the Syrian army”. I’ve seen similar rallies from a number of other opposition-held towns during the past few weeks on Fridays, in which the crowd is waving the rebel flag with the three red eyes (the eyes of blood). A good few such videos have been uploaded over the past few weeks at https://www.youtube.com/user/SHAMSNN/videos . Here’s one recorded in Douma today, 6 Jan 2017, that looks like it could have been recorded in year 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIWGIHQaZhM . It is clear to me that the latest peace announcement arranged by Russia-Turkey cannot last for long. The rebels remain ready and willing to fight. They are not moving attitudinally towards elections and civil political processes. The government MUST fight them: from the goverment’s point of view there’s no choice about that. This is true today equally as much as it has been in all the earlier years of the rebellion. The goverment doesn’t want to fight them immediately, and doesn’t have to fight them immediately. But it will restart putting them all down with violence, which it must do.

    • The goverment must fight the people? Why ?
      The regime is an inhereted dictatorship with 0 right to hold the people down anymore
      its completely reliant on foriegn manpower (shia jihadis) and russian airpower to survive….why die for one mans throne anymore? theres 0 point?

      • The government must fight the people to save Bashar Assad! There is no other reason and also no way for Assad to escape other than through killing his own people. This is a fight to the death. If Assad was a real man he would simply top himself like Hitler did in his bunker when he had lost. Alternatively, one bomb on Assad and the whole abominable situation grinds to a halt. Without Assad, Iran has no regime to support and has to become the occupier of Syria which the world will not accept. Without Assad, Russia has no mechanism to maintain it’s military base in Syria. Without Assad, the terrorist organisation Hezbollah has no reason to be in Syria (excluding the lie about protecting shrines). Eliminate Assad and the problems of Syria are solved.

  2. The residents of Wadi Barada have just signed a peace agreement with representatives of the Syrian army and govt. Here are the terms of the agreement, as translated by our friend Ehsani22 : https://twitter.com/EHSANI22/status/817422286340915200

    Terms include: (1) Non-local fighters must leave the Wadi Barada area, and they can get secure travel to Idlib, (2) the area’s local fighters who stay must surrender their weapons, but the Syrian army is not allowed to do house-to-house searches for weapons, (3) Syrian army will establish its presence in Wadi Barada with army checkpoints.

    Thereby the nationwide ceasefire is maintained for a while longer.

    • You wrote: The residents of Wadi Barada have just signed a peace agreement with representatives of the Syrian army and govt.
      .
      The residents are not doing the fighting and the rebels deny accepting a truce and fighting is still ongoing.

  3. If I had a son …” — Tayyip’s AKP-press shits on ‘The Founder of ISIS’ from a respectable height:
    http://www.turkishminute.com/2017/01/05/pro-govt-yeni-akit-portrays-obama-photos-istanbul-nightclub-attacker/
    .
    If I had a Congress …” — Netanyahudniks shit on ‘The Founder of Hamas’ from a great height:
    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/house-un-vote-233236
    .
    Tayyip’s 4th Estate — Impatient AKP-presstutnik [and former MP himself] demands The Sultan’s Gestapo must begin assassinating HDP parliamentarians before the death penalty is reintroduced by law, and, for maximum efficiency, also before any niggling indictment, trial or appeal:
    http://www.turkishminute.com/2016/12/31/video-former-rp-deputy-fighting-terrorism-not-possible-within-law-mit-must-carry-assassinations/

  4. #International: Interesting article. This one is by AlJazeera on whether the international community is enabling war crimes in Iraq (and by extension Syria?) by supplying the Hashd militias with arms.
    .
    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2017/01/international-community-enabling-war-crimes-iraq-170105203244315.html
    .
    #National: 1) “Assad official: we have infiltrated and taken control of key structures; no one can defend themselves from #IS without cooperating with us.” – KyleWOrton
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    Why am I not surprised? It’d certainly explain why Daeesh have a habit of attacking rebels when ever rebels launch an offensive against regime.
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    2) Interesting article on the Shiification of north-eastern Syria.
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    https://jamestown.org/program/shiite-proselytizing-in-northeastern-syria-will-destabilize-a-post-assad-syria/
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    Anyone still doubting the idea that Irans wants to turn Syria from a majority Sunni country into a majority Shiite country?
    .
    #Damascus: “Rebels repelled an ISIS attack in E. Qalamoun last night, just when rebels started targeting Dumair & Nasiriya regime airbases in E Qalamoun” – Paradoxy13
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    See above comment by Assad’s official (ie Daeesh is so infiltrated with Assadist agents that Daeesh is almost an extension of Assad’s mukhabarat) about this subject. It’s not surprising that Daeesh would do this and also explains why the Russians aren’t serious about targeting Daeesh.
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    #Aleppo: “Regime forces are firing artillery on the town of #Khan_Touman.” – CombatChris1
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    Every time regime breaks the ‘cease fire’ truce rebels should respond with covert (non-publicised) special-ops against senior regime (ie SAA/IRGC/Republican Guards) officers and keep doing it tell either rebels re-start an offensive against regime or regime stops violating the truce.
    .
    #Hama: “Aisha Mother of Believers Battalion & Uwais Qarnee Battalion of Rif #Hama join #FSA Army of Victory” – badly_xeroxed
    .
    The continual merger of smaller groups with a larger rebel group is a welcomed development but at this stage of the rebellion why are there still any remaining battalion-sized (ie 300 fighters) groups left?
    .
    ‘#Daraa: “Opposition stopped a Regime force attempt to infiltrate the town of #Zamrin sparking intense clashes.” – CombatChris1
    .
    Don’t wait for them/regime to come to you, take the fight to them through multiple night-time mobile guerrilla warfare operations against (isolated or manned by small sized units) regime positions along with special-ops against senior regime officers in the province.

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