Syria Daily: Ceasefire Deal Reached in Wadi Barada Near Damascus



UPDATE 1300 GMT: Local activists say Hezbollah and the Assad regime are breaking the ceasefire within hours of its initiation, including airstrikes with barrel bombs.

Meanwhile, the chief negotiator for the Syrian opposition in upcoming political talks in Kazakhstan has said that the delegation will test the Assad regime’s commitment to a ceasefire, the release of detainees, and an end to sieges.

“We’re going to Astana in hopes of securing a ceasefire, especially in the Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghouta areas [near] Damascus,” Mohammad Alloush, a senior official of Jaish al-Islam. “If a [ceasefire] deal — that includes observers -=- can be hammered out, the whole world will know who is violating the truce and who is shelling civilians.”

Alloush’s comments confirm those made earlier this week by rebel sources to EA. The sources said they did not expect Russia and the Assad regime to accept the conditions, with the regime delegation quickly stalling out the negotiations in a debate over the agenda.

The sources said the opposition and rebels will then use the Russian-regime blocking of an advance to sway the opinion and presentation of mainstream media.

Alloush also said that Moscow and the regime cannot control pro-Assad Syrian and foreign units: “[The Shia] militias don’t listen to Russia or the regime. They killed retired Major-General Ahmed al-Ghadban [the mutually-agreed lead negotiator of an agreement over Wadi Barada].”

Al-Ghadban was killed in disputed circumstances last week, a day after he arranged a truce.

Alloush continued with the presentation of Assad and the militias as the barriers to resolution, “Russia now appears convinced of the need for a political solution to the crisis, unlike its position at the 2016 talks in Geneva.” He said:

We only want peace, freedom and justice….

If we achieve what we want at the talks, this will be enough; there will be no need to fight.

But if we don’t [get what we want], those still holding their weapons will continue their struggle until victory.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Opposition outlets said on Thursday that a ceasefire deal has been reached to halt the four-week pro-Assad offensive on Wadi Barada, northwest of Syria’s capital Damascus.

The outlets posted the text of an agreement in which engineers will be able to reach infrastructure for the al-Fija springs, which provide more than 60% of the capital’s water, after the pumping facility was damaged by regime airstrikes. Families will return to the area of 10 villages, while rebels will withdraw to Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

The deal was reportedly brokered by a German diplomat, Andreas Krüger, after an earlier accord broke down when the head negotiator, retired Syrian general Ahmad Gharban, was killed last weekend in disputed circumstances. Accounts differed on whether Gharban was shot by rebels, a lone gunman linked to the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra, or a Hezbollah sniper.

Hezbollan and the Assad regime launched the assault on Wadi Barada, with between 50,000 and 100,000 people, on December 22. The attackers ignored a ceasafire brokered a week later by Russia and Turkey, continuing bombing, shelling, and ground attacks. President Assad promised the offensive would continue until the last “terrorist” left the area.

Despite the intensity of the assault, the pro-Assad forces have only taken one village, Bassima, as well as some high ground near the al-Fija springs. However, local activists and aid organizations have warned that people face the exhaustion of food and supplies because of the Hezbollah-regime siege.

US Expands Strikes Killing Rebels and Jihadists

The US is continuing its airstrikes killing the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and members of certain rebel factions.

The latest attacks killed and wounded dozens of JFS fighters and members of the Nour al-Din al-Zinki faction in a camp in western Aleppo Province.


US attacks have escalated in recent weeks on JFS commanders and bases, leaving scores dead. The assault has also expanded to kill some members of the leading rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham.

Turkey: Assad Removal No Longer Required

Ankara is no longer insisting on President Assad’s removal as part of the resolution of the Syrian conflict, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Friday.

“As far as our position on Assad is concerned, we think that the suffering of (the) Syrian people and the tragedies, clearly the blame is squarely on Assad. But we have to be pragmatic, realistic,” Simsek told a panel on Syria and Iraq at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Simsek added, “The facts on the ground have changed dramatically, so Turkey can no longer insist on a settlement without Assad, it’s not realistic.”

Ankara has called for Assad’s departure since soon after the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, but it has edged away from the demand since the reconciliation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in August.

Political talks, brokered by Turkey and Russia, between the regime and opposition are scheduled for January 23 in Kakakhstan. The opposition and rebels are standing on the condition that President Assad must leave during a transition.

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    • Tension has been rising in Idlib for several weeks and rumors have been circling about a possible Turkish/Russian-backed air campaign against JFS across the province. Opposition groups close to #Turkey have fallen under suspicion for being potential components of such an operation. […]
      Ahrar al-Sham remains structurally unstable and internally divided. Significant decisions have proven immensely hard to make, as two rival ‘currents’ within the group compete for influence. The more ‘progressive’ of the two currents is perceived as being close (or subservient) to #Turkey; which raises concerns within JFS that it faces a potentially dangerous competitor from within a group long assumed to be a close ally. 1/19/2017

    • Probably just some CIA-cornfed fool in AAS who decided to withhold JFS’s 30% ‘revolutionary tax’ in kind on all goods crossing there and needed to be taught a salutary lesson. No way there will be a full-scale internecine war to annihilate NATO’s Sahawat before their pre-programmed back-stabbing of JFS is complete. The Brothers are indivisible!

  1. 1. “The opposition and rebels are standing on the condition that President Assad must leave during a transition.” — LOL, yeah, for another 3 days at most. Tayyip pressing their nose to the Rooskie grindstone in Astana will soon exorcise the demon which has infested these charity cases for far too long already. Once that is done they will be brought meekly to realism [namely that half a loaf is better than no bread] and maybe some serious talking can finally begin. If not, they will be logistically throttled for another 6 months while SAA continues making steady advances, then perhaps they will start to see sense and grasp the meaning of the old saying “beggars can’t be choosers”.
    2. The New Dictionary of Received Wisdom:

  2. ISIS keeps harvesting turks in Al-bab:

    Islamic State claims car bomb attack near northern Syria’s al-Bab: Amaq

    “Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed five Turkish soldiers and wounded nine near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab on Friday, it said in a video posted on Amaq, its news agency.”


    The ‘Nimr’ Tiger


    DAESH/ISIS video showing how they obliterated Erdogan’s tanks and FSA mercenaries in North Aleppo. No wonder the advance came to a halt.


    Some rumours about the parcial collapse of the armata brancaleone (a.k.a euphrates shield):



    Agreement between Russia and Turkey to halt Turkish incursion into Al Bab, and make it a Syrian army operation.

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