Syrian forces encircle militant-held area NW Damascus: Report

January 19, 2017 9:10 pm

A Syrian soldier gestures during the evacuation of terrorists from a militant-held area on December 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Syrian forces have reportedly encircled a militant-held area on the outskirts, where the capital’s water supplies are located.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the route between Wadi Barada, and the adjacent militant-controlled Qalamoun region, was cut on Thursday.
Head of SOHR, Rami Abdel Rahman, said the government forces and allied fighters, “besieged Wadi Barada” following “an advance from the north” the previous day.
Home to the key Ain al-Fijeh spring, Wadi Barada has been rocked by fierce clashes since December 2016. The government forces have been fighting in the area against Takfiri militants, who have damaged the water processing facilities there and cut water flow to some 5.5 million people in Damascus and its suburbs.
Last week, locals struck a truce deal with the Syrian authorities to allow the water pipes to be repaired.
However, the agreement was called off after terrorists in Wadi Barada killed Ahmad al-Ghadban, a representative of the Syrian government, who would coordinate reconciliation talks between Damascus and militant groups.

Syrians fill plastic containers with water provided by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Damascus on January 10, 2017.  (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, an unnamed Syrian source confirmed that the government troops had encircled Wadi Barada and that fighting was ongoing.
“Ain al-Fijeh has practically fallen militarily. The armed groups are surrounded… and have no choice but to accept the settlement or the continuation of the military operation,” the source said.
Militant infighting rages on in Idlib
Separately on Thursday, the SOHR said that members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, had attacked checkpoints and positions held by the Saudi-backed Ahrar al-Sham militant outfit in ’s northwestern Idlib Province.
According to the UK-based monitoring group, the two sides clashed with each other, with Fateh al-Sham seizing a border crossing into Turkey.
The developments come as a cessation of hostilities has been largely holding across Syria for almost three weeks now while a new round of peace talks is due in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on January 23.
The Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist groups are excluded from the ceasefire and the upcoming discussions.
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