Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria: Regime Flag, Republican Guards Obstruct Wadi Barada Negotiations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Damascus residents cut off from water/AFP

Beirut, London – Russia’s conditions to introduce repair teams to Ain al-Fijeh springs and to raise the regime flag along with the presence of Republican Guard forces had foiled on Sunday talks related to a truce in the Wadi Barada valley in Damascus suburbs.

Regime forces resumed on Sunday their attacks on the valley in light of a continuous water shortage in the capital, Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 24 air strikes had hit Wadi Barada since Sunday morning, at locations close to the two villages of Bassimah and Ain al-Fijeh, in addition to other areas in the valley.

Simultaneously, tens of missiles and rockets were launched on the same areas while continuous fighting emerged between regime forces and members loyal to Lebanon’s so-called “Hezbollah” with opposition factions and members of Fatah al-Sham front.

Opposition websites reported that Moscow had fulfilled its threats after the opposition rejected conditions enforced by the Russian delegation and which stipulates allowing repair teams to enter the Ain al-Fijeh springs.

The Wadi Barada media office issued a statement on Sunday saying the Russian general was extremely angry when he learned that opposition groups rejected Moscow’s conditions. The media office said the general clearly threatened residents who oppose Moscow’s conditions and said Russian warplanes would attack the two villages of Bassimah and Ain al-Fijeh.

Spokesperson for the Wadi Barada media office Mohammed al-Bardawi told Ahsarq Al-Awsat that accepting those conditions would allow regime forces to invade the area after the exile of residents and fighters, similar to what happened in the Damascus suburbs. “This is something we won’t accept,” he said.

Regime media outlets held the opposition responsible for the failure of negotiations, and announced that military operations would resume in the Wadi Barada after armed groups obstructed the ceasefire.

A source close to the regime told Germany’s news agency that an agreement was reached last week to respect a 3-hour ceasefire on Friday and Saturday, allowing a Russian delegation to enter the area and negotiate with armed groups concerning the entry of a repair team to Ain al-Fijeh to fix the water springs. However, negotiations failed, the source said.

Meanwhile, Syria’s “president” Bashar al-Assad told visiting French lawmakers on Sunday that he was “optimistic” about new peace talks planned for later this month, a member of the delegation told AFP.

Lawmaker Thierry Mariani said the Syrian “president” also declared himself willing to negotiate with nearly 100 rebel groups fighting against his government, excluding jihadist organizations.

Assad also dismissed accusations of war crimes by his forces by saying that no wars were clean.

“There were probably mistakes on the part of the government” that Assad said he would “condemn” and “regret,” Mariani said.