Syria : despite the truce, the regime bombards rebels near Damascus

In spite of the truce, the syrian army has bombed on Monday a region rebel near Damascus to attempt to capture vital water supplies for the capital. In force for four days, the cessation of hostilities – the umpteenth since the beginning of the war there are nearly six years – to pave the way for peace negotiations at the end of January in Astana in Kazakhstan, under the auspices of Moscow and Tehran, the sponsors of the plan, and Ankara’s support of the rebels. But the truce could be threatened by the continuation of the bombing of the regime on Wadi Barada, an area held by rebels 15 kilometres from Damascus and where are the main sources of supply of potable water for four million residents of the capital and its surroundings. For the past two weeks, even before the advent of the ceasefire by Russia and Turkey, syria’s air force bombarded on an almost daily basis this area and troops of the regime have advanced on Monday to the outskirts of Ain al-Fige, an important source of water.

Water shortage

“By bombing in Wadi Barada by aircraft and artillery on several axes, the troops of the regime, supported by Hezbollah, a shiite lebanese, have advanced in the area and are now on the outskirts of Ain al-Fijé,” said the syrian Observatory human rights (OSDH), according to which fierce fighting took place in the area. On December 25, the regime has accused the rebels of having “contaminated diesel fuel” the water network, but these have pointed the finger at the inefficiency of the government in power. Result, for more than a week, the capital suffers from water shortages forcing Damascus to join each day long queues in front of the tanker trucks.

In addition to the water issue, the regime wants to submit this region as it has done with several strongholds of the rebellion in the province of Damascus, which surrendered after having been besieged and bombarded for years. In the Face of continued shelling, the rebels of Wadi Barada have warned against the danger that hovers on the truce overall. “We call on the sponsors of the truce to take up their responsibilities and to put pressure on the regime and its allied militia to stop their flagrant violations of the agreement “, said a press release published on Monday.

Otherwise, “we will call all of the rebel factions operating in Syria to disavow the agreement, and to ignite the fronts” in solidarity with Wadi Barada, surrounded by the regime since the mid-2015, says the text. Members of the group jihadist Front, Fateh al-Sham, a former branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria, fighting alongside rebels in this region. This group, as the organization islamic State (EI), is excluded from the agreement of truce. As in previous truces, which had splintered after a few days, it is the alliance of rebel groups with Fateh al-Sham, the former branch of Al-Qaeda, which makes it very difficult an application of the cease-fire.

Very weak, these rebel groups will be able to distance themselves from their companions-in-arms of Fateh al-Sham, an organization better equipped army, omnipresent in the regions that remain under their control. In contrast, the AR, responsible for bloody attacks in Syria and abroad, operates only in the areas it has conquered in Northern syria and continues, to him, to be the target of the raids of the various armies of the air, Russian, american, Turkish, and syrian.

The United States in full political transition

To give more weight to his initiative to cease-fire, Russia has sought and obtained on Saturday, a support of the security Council of the UN, albeit a mixed one. Supporting ” the efforts of Russia and Turkey to put an end to the violence in Syria and start a political process “, the security Council merely to “take note” of the terms of the agreement, recalling the need to apply ” all the relevant resolutions of the united nations “. Among them was the resolution 2254, which provided for, under the initiative of Washington, a comprehensive roadmap to exit the crisis. In the midst of a transition policy until the assumption of office of Donald Trump, the United States, in support of the opposition to the regime, have not been associated with this latest initiative, for the first time since the beginning of the war in march 2011.

On the other hand, this is the first time that Turkey has sponsored such an agreement, thanks to its rapprochement with the Russia of Vladimir Putin, who wants to pose as the maker of peace after its military intervention on the side of the regime of Bashar el-Assad in September 2015. The negotiations in Astana must precede the scheduled talks in February in Geneva. The previous discussions intersyriennes were not able to allow an early resolution of the conflict that has made over 310 000 people dead and millions of refugees since 2011.

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