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Syria: Street Battles Rage across Al-Bab, SDF Units Advance near Lake Assad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut – Syrian Opposition forces officially denied a previously announced ceasefire agreement relayed by Iran-aligned proxy in Syria so-called “Hezbollah” over the rebel-held Barda Valley near Damascus.

A military news outlet run by Hezbollah reported that a ceasefire had been reached for “a number of hours” in the area, but Munir Sayal, head of the political wing of the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, told Reuters the report was “a lie”.

He said that the regime had rejected on Thursday a ceasefire that would have allowed for repairs to the water pumping station and for people to return to two nearby villages from which they had been displaced.

The regime and allied militants from the Lebanese Hezbollah launched an attack two weeks ago to take back Wadi Barada where a spring provides supplies to four million people in the capital.

Rebels say the regime bombed the water pumping station at the start of the campaign. The United Nations has said it was put of action by “deliberate targeting” but has declined to say which side was responsible.

Kurdish-composed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on another scope, made a sizable advance in the site of Qalat Jabar, located on a peninsula in Lake Assad west of Raqqa.

United States-backed SDF units pushed against ISIS hardliners in Qalat Jabar.

The SDF launched the second phase of their Wrath of Euphrates campaign on December 10. They are being supported by U.S.-led coalition which carried out 17 airstrikes in the Raqqa area on Thursday.

Alternatively, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday that both Turkey and the region are paying the price for the United States choosing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as a partner in the fight against terror group ISIS.

Speaking to broadcaster Haberturk, Isik said Washington was giving weapons to YPG militia, which Ankara sees as a hostile force, but added that it would be too much to say that it is doing it on purpose and to trigger terrorism in Turkey.

More so, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are fighting street battles with ISIS militants in the city of al-Bab, and progress in taking it from the extremists has been slowed by efforts to avoid civilian casualties, Turkey’s defense minister added on Friday.

The rebels, backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and war planes, have been besieging the ISIS-held city of al-Bab for weeks as part of an operation to drive the militants out of a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border.

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdish PKK militant group, which has claimed or been blamed for a series of deadly attacks in Turkey, the most recent a car bombing in the western city of Izmir which killed two people on Thursday.