PHOTO: Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus, where pro-Assad forces are attacking despite a ceasefire
- Jabhat Fatah al-Sham: US Strike Hit Our Headquarters, “Dozens” of Casualties
- US Military Acknowledges “At Least 188” Civilians Killed by Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria
- Prime Minister Promises Aleppo Recovery
UPDATE 1540 GMT: Local sources say the ceasefire is effectively “toast”, as rebels lost patience with continuing pro-Assad offensives and attacks.
The sources report rebel shelling in northern Hama Province in retaliation for airstrikes. In Damascus Province, they have fired at a military base in protest over the regime attempt to overrun Wadi Barada. They also shelled the regime enclave of al-Fu’ah in Idlib Province.
One source summarizes, “These actions are just a symbol, a last signal to considering the deal as null and void.”
The troops would be moved from the eastern Qalamoun mountains, northeast of Damascus.
While the statement did not give details about the deployment, the fighters could be used to attack the regime and Hezbollah units surrounding Wadi Barada as well as a nearby Iranian headquarters.
A reliable source in the area reports the movement of Iranian reinforcements “throughout the day” to the headquarters.
UPDATE 0825 GMT: Civil society groups in Wadi Barada, under attack and siege by pro-Assad forces, have again called on international organizations to intervene for a ceasefire.
A statement issued late Monday asked for deployment of international observers and assurance of the supply of food, medicines, and building materials.
— وادي بردى (@w_barada) January 2, 2017
The groups said they are ready to cooperate with an international inquiry to confirm the cause of the damage of facilities providing most of Damascus’s water.
The pro-Assad attacks have put a pumping station out of service, but the Assad regime has covered its assault with the pretext that rebels “poisoned” the al-Fija springs with diesel fuel.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Syria’s rebels have frozen discussions about negotiations over the Assad regime’s breaking of the five-day national ceasefire.
The rebel groups said Monday that they are suspending any consideration of their involvement in political talks, brokered by Russia and Turkey, in Kazakhstan next month.
A statement said, “The regime and its allies have continued firing and committed many and large violations.” It cited the ongoing pro-Assad attempt trying to overrun Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus, and attacks on other areas, as it questioned whether Russia can force compliance of the Assad regime and its allies.
Moscow and Ankara announced the agreement last Thursday with both rebels and the Assad regime. However, pro-Assad forces never stopped their three-week assault on the Wadi Barada area.
Shelling and airstrikes continued Monday on the area of 10 villages and about 100,000 people, which is strategically significant because its al-Fija springs provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water.
Regime airstrikes and shelling damaged the pumping station more than a week ago, limiting supplies to more than 4 million people to hours per day. Yesterday a bomb landed less than 120 meters from the facility.
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) January 3, 2017
The Assad regime has justified the attacks by claiming that they are on the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, because it is excluded like the Islamic State from the truce.
However, it has provided no evidence of a renewed JFS/Nusra presence in an area which the jihadist group left in late 2015. In addition, rebels say the version of the agreement which they signed did not exclude JFS/Nusra from the ceasefire.
Attacks and clashes have occurred elsewhere near Damascus and in northwest Syria. A pro-Assad website has not only hailed the ongoing assault by the Syrian military and militias in the East Ghouta area, northeast of Damascus; it has acknowledged that the offensive is against the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam, which is covered by the ceasefire.
Jabhat Fatah al-Sham: US Strike Hit Our Headquarters, “Dozens” of Casualties
“Media sources” for the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham has confirmed that a US airstrike hit its headquarters in Idlib Province, causing multiple casualties.
The sources verified claims on social media that the headquarters near the town of Sarmada was attacked Tuesday night, with “dozens” killed and wounded.
Earlier this week a US strike killed two commanders of the faction, formerly known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
US Military Acknowledges “At Least 188” Civilians Killed by Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria
The US military has acknowledged that at least 188 civilians have been killed in US-led strikes in Iraq and Syria since its campaign began against the Islamic State in August 2014.
The Combined Joint Task Force said it is still assessing five reports of unintentional deaths from four strikes in 2016 and one from 2015.
The military’s overall estimate is far below that of groups monitoring the civilian casualties. Airwars puts the number at 2,100.
Russian State outlet RT headlines the US military statement — without referring to any of the thousands of civilians killed by Russia’s strikes in Syria since September 2015.
Prime Minister Promises Aleppo Recovery
Two weeks after the Assad regime’s reoccupation of all of Aleppo, Prime Minister Imad Khamis has visited Syria’s largest city and promised recovery.
Khamis was photographed on Tuesday with a delegation in an Aleppo neighborhood and in discussion with members of the Governorate and city councils..
The Prime Minister declared that the regime’s priority is providing necessary services including water, electricity, and roads, as well as re-launching production and improving education.