Syrian forces advance into village in Wadi Barada area
The Syrian army has retaken a village in the strategic Wadi Barada area in the countryside of Damascus, which hosts water supplies to the capital and its surroundings.
On Thursday, the troops advanced into the village of Bassimeh in the area, where Barada, Damascus’ main river, as well as a spring supplying the capital’s general area with water, is located.
Takfiri militants have been fighting government forces in the area since late December, 2016, damaging the water processing facilities there and reducing water flow to some five million people in the city.
Also on Thursday, as many as 500 civilians and militants evacuated the area as part of a reconciliation agreement between the armed groups and the government.
Meanwhile, United Nations envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said five villages in Wadi Barada had reached agreements with the government to stop hostilities.
Damascus is pushing for more such deals in order to secure civilian lives there, and send in engineers to repair the facilities.
In recent months, hundreds of militants have laid down weapons and surrendered to the Syrian army under such reconciliation agreements.
The Syrian government says Takfiri militants in Wadi Barada, including those from the Fateh al-Sham terror group, are deliberately cutting water supplies to the capital and its surroundings.
Late last year, the army managed to liberate the eastern sector of Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, which had fallen to Takfiri groups back in 2012.
By doing so, the Syrian forces both restored the entirety of the city to government control and dealt the hardest blow to the militants since the onset of their campaign of foreign-fueled violence in Syria in 2011.
Government forces later secured the evacuation of remaining civilians and armed elements from the city under a ceasefire deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, which were respectively representing the Syrian government and the armed factions.
The Aleppo deal set the stage for a landmark all-Syria truce deal between Damascus and foreign-backed militant groups operating in the country. The Daesh and Fateh al-Sham terror groups are excluded from the ceasefire deal.
The diplomatic achievements were made possible following high-level trilateral talks involving Russia, Iran and Turkey over the Syria crisis in Moscow.
De Mistura also said the comprehensive ceasefire was holding for the most part.