Syria Daily: Rebels and Families Removed from Wadi Barada Near Damascus

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PHOTO: Destruction in Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus, from Hezbollah and regime attacks


UPDATE 2130 GMT: Images from the removal of rebels and their families from Wadi Barada:

WADI BARADA REMOVAL 1

WADI BARADA REMOVAL 2

WADI BARADA REMOVAL 3


Rebels and their families began leaving Wadi Barada of Damascus on Sunday, more than five weeks after a Hezbollah-regime assault on the area of 10 villages and a strategic water source.

The pro-Assad attacks on Wadi Barada, held by the opposition since 2012, began December 22. Bombing, shelling, and ground assaults defied two ceasefires brokered by Russia and Turkey, and two local agreements for a truce also collapsed, one when the mutually agreed-negotiator was shot and killed.

Wadi Barada contains the al-Fija springs, which supply more than 60% of Damascus’s water. The pumping facility for the springs was damaged in late December by regime airstrikes, cutting off supply to more than five million people in the capital.

On Saturday, Hezbollah and regime forces finally reached the springs as rebels withdrew to the west. The pro-Assad assault had earlier taken three of Wadi Barada’s 10 villages.

Yesterday up to 2,100 residents — about 400 rebels, more than 1,500 family members. and 70 critically ill people — were to be evacuated. They began boarding buses around 1 pm; however, departure was delayed into the night, reportedly because of regime inspections of the passengers and vehicles.

Local Wadi Barada civil society organizations said last that more than 200 people were killed, 400 injured, and 45,000 made homeless during the pro-Assad offensive. Food, medicine and other basic supplies were cut off, as the attacks targeted journalists, medical workers, civil defense volunteers, and infrastructure as well as rebels.

Abu Uday, a rebel fighter, told Syria Direct from one of the evacuation buses with his family:

I’m pained by my decision to leave. This is the feeling of losing your land, the place where you were born and have lived your whole life…but I know that staying would have meant forced recruitment into one of the national defense militias.

Safaa, a local nurse and mother of five children, said:

On one hand, we’re terribly sad to see the rebels leaving and the regime coming in, but we are so relieved that the bombing and the encirclement will finally come to an end and that nobody else will have to die.

Since the beginning of the revolution, this has been an area at peace….We were never prepared for such a blockade. This agreement is a way to save the lives of children, of the elderly inside Wadi Barada.

It’s not a surrender and it’s not a betrayal of those martyrs who gave their lives for this land.

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43 COMMENTS

    • You keep getting things the wrong way round, as usuall. The destruction you want to speak about blame it only on the SAA and hezb’s scortched earth approach. Like in the rest of the country.

    • Hezbollah blew it up due to people wanting to be free of a fruity looking tyrant..cant see any issue with what the people wanting rid of him

          • Sorry Scott, but Bellingcat’s analysis, which I assume you are basing your position on, is flawed.

            A comment I came across summed it up perfectly.

            1. The people in most of Wadi Barada DO NOT get their water from al Fijah spring and they would not be ‘poisoning their own water’ . They get water piped from filthy wells further upstream and a treatment plant on the mountain. All the al Fijah water is piped to Damascus. None of it goes to the local water supply, and normally it does not overflow into the Barada River – it all goes to Damascus.

            2. The accumulator building at al Fijah flows into gravity-fed tunnels and eventually pipes that lead to Damascus. There IS NO generator, pump or pumping station in the building that was bombed and no damn diesel tank or other equipment. The building covers a few smaller springs, which flow into the accumulator pool in the middle of the building. The water flows by gravity from that pool into the Damascus tunnel(s). It’s a natural-flow accumulator and has been one for a century. It would be easy enough to throw a barrel of diesel into the entrance of the Damascus tunnel and ONLY poison the Damascus water. The accumulator water flowing out the overflow is still pure and clean.

            3. The head-chopper video was taken *inside* the accumulator’s Damascus tunnel. Notice anything? How about NO WATER. They had already prevented the water from going into the tunnel when that video was made. That’s done one of two ways: taking wooden dam boards out of the overflow gate, or inserting dam boards over the lower portion of the Damascus tunnel. The accumulator pool only has a few inches of water in it, so they are probably just diverting all of it out the overflow into the Barada River. They can still blow the tunnel to complicate repairs later on if they’re going to lose control of the spring, but they don’t have to do that now to deprive Damascus of water – the overflow does that just fine.

            4. However the roof came down, it has NO effect on the springs. They are still producing and the water is all going out the overflow. See how clear it is? The roof debris didn’t ‘block the Damascus tunnel’ or the head-chopper video couldn’t have been made. The water is ‘turned off’ to Damascus by opening the overflow gates all the way (pulling all of its flash boards) so the accumulator main pool is too low to flow into the Damascus tunnel.

            • This post is a series of red herrings — some of them nonsensical — that don’t actually deal with the Bellingcat report.

              But there is far more evidence than just the summary in Bellingcat. It was regime airstrikes that damaged infrastructure.

              • This post is a series of red herrings — some of them nonsensical — that don’t actually deal with the Bellingcat report.

                Actually it does. The Bellingcat report points out that the rebels have threatened to cut off the water supply in the past and had prepared the structure for demolition prior to December 25th.

                There is also a video posted on a private Facebook account by a rebel calling himself Abu Talib Barada.
                “Let everyone know that the lives of the hypocrites in Damascus are not more precious than the life of a #child from #Barda_Valley. One of the water tunnels for #Ain_al-Fijah which heads to the capital #The_occupied_Damascus, is currently being #mined by the rebels, in the event that the mercenary #Qays_Farwa commander of the barbaric campaign on the villages of #Barda_Valley continues attacking, all the #main tunnels will be detonated, and will never return.”

                The Belligcat report also states that “The Fijeh Springs are a contested resource and have previously been cut off by the rebels in order to prevent or stop regime offensives.

                But there is far more evidence than just the summary in Bellingcat. It was regime airstrikes that damaged infrastructure.

                That still does not address the issue of the diesel contamination the water supply.

                The Bellingcat report proposes that the contamination was from ” a damaged fuel tank, generator, or otherwise” but there is no generator, pump or pumping station in the building that was bombed and no diesel tank or other equipment.

                There is no conceivable reason for diesel to be present in the building, therefore no conceivable way that this could have been a consequence of the bombing regardless of who carried it out.

                Lastly, the Bellingcat report tries to argue that the rebels would not have bombed the facility or contaminated the water because doing so would lose all influence and risk their pocket being destroyed. But at the same time, ignores that intentionally bombing the facility would risk the water being cut off to Syria’s largest city.

              • This post is a series of red herrings — some of them nonsensical — that don’t actually deal with the Bellingcat report.

                On the contrary.

                The Bellingcat report points out that the rebels had blocked/diverted water supply to Damascus in the past as a bargaining tool and had wired the building up to be demolished in the event of an attack from the regime.

                The report also argues out that neither side stood to gain from destroying the building. The rebels would lose the leverage that control of the facility awarded them and the regime had no reason to risk cutting off water to so many of it’s residents in Damascus.

                But there is far more evidence than just the summary in Bellingcat. It was regime airstrikes that damaged infrastructure.

                Perhaps though there is no definitive proof. It is highly unlikely the contamination of the water was the result of the bombing. There were no generators or diesel oil stores in the building.

              • None of this addresses the red herrings in your previous attempt. And nothing in these latest two comments 1) discredits anything the Bellingcat report 2) gives any evidence of rebel cut-off or demolition of tunnel in December 3) gives any evidence of diesel poisoning 4) deals with substantial evidence of damage to infrastructure caused by airstrikes.

        • Funny looked diesel free in the regime pics
          And the roof caved in as though bombed from above
          Plus posion fits regime tactics due to its unpopularity not rebels

          • How can you differentiate diesel free water from diesel contaminated water by looking at pics Leeroy?

            And the roof caved in as though bombed from above

            Roofs also cave in when bombed from below or from the side.

            Plus posion fits regime tactics due to its unpopularity not rebels

            No, poison fits rebels tactics as they have done it before.

            The organizations who made an offer to lift the water blockade of Damascus in December obviously thought they had the power to do so. They then must also be held responsible for keeping the blockade up. They must also have intimate relations with the al-Qaeda fighters who currently occupy the damaged water facilities.

  1. More and more news about Assad being very sick. The only confirmed news seem his prolonged stay at Damascus hospital were he is still. X files ! 🙂

      • He doesnt count anthing anymore anways. If rebels plans were to get rid of him its nearly a won cause. Problem is who will come up nect.

        • If he dies then there the surviving Baathist elite will fight for power his brother has been crippled so he’s likely out. But his uncle Mohammed and cousin Rami are still active, but you still have secret police Ali Mamluk and defence minster Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Hilal Hilal the 2nd highest ranking member of the Baath Party or Suheil al-Hassan (aka Col Shere Khan of the Tiger forces).

          It will be fun seeing who stabs who in the back first.

  2. How Tulsi Gabbard became Assad’s mouthpiece in Washington
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-tulsi-gabbard-became-assads-mouthpiece-in-washington/2017/01/29/215e9c70-e4bf-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html?utm_term=.e04101d6ff07
    “Principled opposition to U.S. intervention in Syria is one thing. Becoming a tool of a mass murderer’s propaganda and influence campaign is another. Gabbard’s cooperation with the Syrian regime damages her effort to promote herself as a legitimate foreign policy voice.”

    We need better treason laws. If it were up to me that traitorous b**** would be in a jail cell.

    • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard takes a huge risk when she travels to Syria and tells the truth. It would have been much more beneficial for her if she joined the stupid and predictable pack of the McCains, that automatically condemns Assad.

      • By huge risk u mean she took cash from pure evil and was sent over to safe areas secured by iranian troop to tell lies.
        Shes basicaly a moral vacum thal do anything for cash…a street walker has more dignity

        • By risk I mean, she represents one of the most progressive communities in America. It needs a courage to say the unpopular and face criticism from those who she depend on reelection. Respect

          • Progressive aya? Is that why she wants to lift the sanctions of Iran as it hangs gay 12 year old and executes women who defend themselves from rape? Or where members of the IRGC can “temporary marry” any girl that they want, chant “I divorce you” three times and pass her on to another IRCG man to rape her sorry I mean temporary marry no wait I mean rape. Lets not get started on the racism against non-Aryans in Iran (which means Aryanland), with Kurds, Arabs, Balochs, Turkemen and Lurs all treated like dirt for not speaking Dari as their first language.

            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/reyhaneh-jabbari-executed-iran-hangs-woman-for-murder-of-her-alleged-attempted-rapist-9817712.html

            Also the Baath regime is responsible for the deaths of over 200 Marines in Lebanon and even Landis admitted that Assad’s cousin Munzir was caught smuggling weapons into Iraq to kill American (and British) soldiers. She may as well campaign for Jochim Peiper’s face to be carved on Mont Rushmore it be about as pro-American.

            http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2004/07/asad-arrested-for-smuggling-weapons.htm

            “Yeah but they also kill gays in Uganda and Arabia… and there is racism in against the gypies in Eastern Europe and…” [the likely response)

            Yes I know and believe it or not its just as bad as when they do it. The fact that one subscribes to an alternative theological beliefs system dose not help or hinder the guilt of there actions.

            • Is that why she wants to lift the sanctions of Iran as it hangs gay 12 year old and executes women who defend themselves from rape?

              Please remind which sanctions have been imposed on Iran over human rights violations? Since when have sanctions on human rights violating countries been a measure progressive bonafides?

              What roll call can you provide of progressives in the house who have called for sanctions on Saudi Arabia for beheading those accused of sorcery. I must have missed those progressives on the Hill calling for sanctions after Saudi Arabia sentenced a man to execution by beheading, followed by displaying his crucified re,ains in public.

              What progressives stood up when US sponsored El Zinki beheaded a 12 year old boy with infusion tubes coming out of his arms.

              The bottom line is that the inly reason there are any sanctions against Iran is because Iran is not a client state of Washington.

              Or where members of the IRGC can “temporary marry” any girl that they want, chant “I divorce you” three times and pass her on to another IRCG man to rape her sorry I mean temporary marry no wait I mean rape.

              Please feel free to provide a link to the fake news site where you read that piece of fiction.

              Lets not get started on the racism against non-Aryans in Iran (which means Aryanland), with Kurds, Arabs, Balochs, Turkemen and Lurs all treated like dirt for not speaking Dari as their first language.

              Really? Tell that to the 25,000 strong Iranian Jewish population who’s life is so miserable that they refused to leave Iran even after being offered US$50,000 to move to Israel.

              Also the Baath regime is responsible for the deaths of over 200 Marines in Lebanon

              Those marines has no business being there and were legitimate military targets. I guess you missed the part about the US New Jersey Shelling the hills of Southern Lebanon.

              And since when was the Baath regime responsible? How are they any more responsible than
              Washington is responsible for the deaths of 290 passengers killed when the USS Vincennes shot a passenger plane out of the sky in Iranian air space?

              even Landis admitted that Assad’s cousin Munzir was caught smuggling weapons into Iraq to kill American (and British) soldiers.

              Landis makes no such statement in that link. And again, do we need to remind you that those American and British soldiers were invaders and illegally occupying Iraq having attacked Iraq on the basis of lies?

            • Are u suggesting she did or work for genicidal criminals for free?

              I am suggesting that

              1. You provide any evidence she took money from Assad or any genocidalwar criminals
              2. Explain why she has had been a critic of US regime change policy and support for juhadists in Syria for so long.

              Surely if she was on Assad’s payroll, the DOJ and CIA would be all over it.

              That would make her both immoral and stupid

              Indeed and she is clearly neither

        • Shes basicaly a moral vacum thal do anything for cash…a street walker has more dignity

          How novel. Labeling a woman who doesn’t stick to the official narrative a prostitute.

          The fact is that no one has even tried to refute her findings so they are throwing everything they have to malign her.

          • They are maligning her cause she went and did p.r work for an evil regime for her own benefit
            That does take a level of sociopathic greed
            I admit it was wrong to compare her to a street walker as most of them are victims….shes more like their abusive pimps or mafia members, no pity for fellow humans shes just about that cash

    • How Tulsi Gabbard became Assad’s mouthpiece in Washington

      The same smear was used against anyone who questioned the lies about WMD in the run up to the Iraq war – that they were apologists or defenders of Saddam.

      Same old same old from WaPo fake news

  3. According this 84 army troops, including 18 officers, from Assad’s hometown of Qardaha have been killed on different battlefield, especially in the eastern countryside of Homs province this January and there apparently no young men left in the town. Pre-revolution the population was 17,701 so about
    8850 males, so how many would of been killed? 2000? 4000? I doubt there are that many over 50s in Qardaha and there is bound to be a lot of people too young to fight. That’s 0.5% of the population or 1% of the male population lost in just one month. Completely unsubstantial casualties.

    If that’s how the his home town is doing how much worse must it be for other pro-regime places? Other than say maybe the upper-class districts of Damascus like Mezzah 86 Qardaha has got to be one of the most important places for the regime. Of course the flip-side is that Qardaha residents will be more loyal and willing to be killed for him than people from say Latakia city centre.

    https://en.zamanalwsl.net/news/22782.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qardaha

  4. So according to not only pro-rebel but also regime and Russian sources this is what we know:
    .
    1) Assad was already in a frail condition (e.g. see his involuntary tics) before this incident.
    .
    2) There was an assassination attempt and it was from one of his body guards who happened to be an Iranian (some one from the IRGC?).
    .
    3) The assassination attempt by this Iranian (IRGC soldier?) bodyguard was part of a coup instigated by Bashar’s brother Maher (which indicates that Maher is Richard III type figure: A famous king – also dramatised by William Shakespeare – who allegedly murdered his brother’s sons in order to inherit the throne) which indicates that Bashar is considered so weak by the Alawite security establishment that the most unscrupulous amongst them are waiting to take his place and that his brother (Bashar’s own brother – shows how greedy for power these people are that they’ll attack their own family members to get power) Maher was the first to make his move.
    .
    4) If Bashar does die and his brother Maher does not inherit the throne (very Game of Thrones type plot) then the Russians anticipate a messy power-struggle amongst the elite of the Alawite security establishment with either Colonel Suhail Hassan or Assad’s head of Mukhabarat being the non-Assads who get to rule Syria.
    .
    5) Who ever wins power though will be forced to choose between Russia or Iran and the losing party of these two powers will not take kindly to losing influence.
    .
    All in all an interesting development and one hopes it goes out of hand very quickly and polarises the loyalties of regime fighters enough that they/regime troops start fighting each other rather then wanting to fight rebels which would be a welcomed change from rebels fighting each other whilst the regime remained unified.

  5. #Latakia: “#JFS (Nusra) stormed the headquarters of #FSA 1st Coastal Division and seized all their heavy and light weapons.” – CombatChris1
    .
    Considering the fact that the Coastal Division hasn’t attacked JFS before shows how thuggish they are. They/FSA Coastal Division should merge with Ahrar or Idlib Army. I suspect it’s the former JaA members who are doing this. Coastal Division/Idlib Army/Jaish Al-Nasir should all become one or all join Ahrar.
    .
    As for the Trump ban I personally Lebanon is added to the list because of Hezbollah if so it’ll be a hilarious slap and something I’d support.

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