After only four days, the ceasefire in Syria seems to be in agony on Tuesday. A large part of the rebels decided to leave the table of negotiations under the aegis of Moscow, in the face of repeated keystrokes of the plan. “These violations are continuing, the rebel factions announce (…) the gel of any discussion related to negotiations of Astana”, said Monday, about a dozen rebel groups in a press release about the discussions held in view of the coming peace talks in Kazakhstan.
In force from Thursday midnight, the cessation of hostilities in Syria – the latest of many since the beginning of the war there are nearly six years – is supposed to pave the way for peace negotiations at the end of January in Astana under the aegis of Moscow and Tehran, the sponsors of the plan, and Ankara’s support of the rebels. But this truce looks increasingly fragile, if not non-existent, in the face of the continued bombardment of the regime on Wadi Barada, an area held by rebels 15 kilometres from Damascus. A sector is all the more strategic as it is where are the main sources of supply of potable water for four million residents of the capital and its surroundings.
Intensification of raids
On Monday, troops of the regime, aided by soldiers of Hezbollah are lebanese, have advanced to the outskirts of Ain al-Solidified, an important water source, according to the Observatory syrian human rights (OSDH). And “they have stepped up their bombing on Monday night,” said the Observatory. According to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the OSDH, the fighting with the rebels, including the Fateh al-Sham (the former Front al-Nosra, Al-Qaeda in Syria). The rebels deny them the presence in this sector of the subsidiary of Al-Qaeda.
The insurgents, supporting them to have “respect the ceasefire”. “But the regime and its allies (…) have committed frequent violations (of the truce), in particular in the regions of Wadi Barada and Ghouta east”, both of which are in the province of Damascus. And “in spite of repeated requests made to the guarantor party of the regime (Russia), these violations continue, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”, denounced the release of the rebels. “Any (advanced) on the ground goes against the agreement (truce) and if things do not come back as before, the agreement will be considered null and void,” they even threatened in their text.
Among the signatories to the communiqué are the groups islamist rebels Jaich al-islam, and Faylaq al-abd al-rahman, influential in Damascus, the Sultan Murad, supported by Turkey, and Jaich al-Ezza, active in the province of Hama (center).
Mixed support for the UN
On December 25, the regime accused the rebels of having “contaminated diesel fuel” the water network supplying the capital, but they have pointed the finger at the inefficiency of the government in power. Result, for more than a week, Damascus suffers from water shortages forcing people to join each day long queues in front of the trucks tank. 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.
Earlier in the day, the rebels of Wadi Barada had already warned against the danger that hovers on the truce, calling it “the sponsors of the truce, ( … ) to put pressure on the regime and its allied militia to stop their flagrant violations of the agreement”. 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, continued their press release. According to the OSDH, about 1,000 women and children have fled the area of Wadi Barada, during the weekend.
The shelling and sporadic fighting multiply, in fact, since the entry into force of the truce. On Monday, two civilians were killed in a bombing of the regime on the rebellious city of Rastane, in the province of Homs (center), according to the OSDH, and shelling also took place in the evening in the provinces of Hama (center) and Deraa (south). Russia had obtained Saturday, mixed levels of support of the security Council of the united nations to his peace plan.
In full political transition before the assumption of duties of Donald Trump, the United States, supporters of the opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, 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 Damascus in September 2015. The negotiations in Astana must precede the scheduled talks in February in Geneva.
None of the previous discussions intersyriennes there has been an early settlement to a conflict that has made over 310 000 people dead and millions of refugees.