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Hezbollah Leads Wadi Barada Battles | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture shows destruction in the former rebel-held Sukkari district in the northern city of Aleppo on December 23, 2016 (AFP Photo)

Beirut- “Hezbollah” launched a largescale attack on the Wadi Barada valley, northwest of Damascus, a military escalation that constitutes a dangerous threat to the ceasefire, some reports said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Tehran announced that the party’s forces would not withdraw from Syria as requested by Turkey in light of its truce deal signed with Russia.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: “A field attack on the Wadi Barada is led by Hezbollah. Regime forces provide a coverage using barrel bombs and launching missiles. As for the role of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the area, it is limited to patronizing.”

The group said Wadi Barada is considered a primary water source in the area.

Opposition activist in Damascus suburb Diya’ al-Husseini told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that the regime is mainly attacking the Ain al-Fijeh area, located on the northeastern entrance of Wadi Barada.

“Regime forces and Hezbollah fighters controlled three points at the outskirts of Ain al-Fijeh, but on Monday morning, rebels were able to recuperate these areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asserted that despite a ceasefire deal brokered in Syria between Russia and Turkey, “Hezbollah” would not leave the country.

Velayati told reporters at a press briefing following a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki in Tehran on Tuesday: “The claim that Hezbollah would leave Syria after the ceasefire is mere propaganda by the enemy.”

Velayati also said that “those who attempt to hold a negotiation process without the consent of the Assad regime or people will not be allowed to join the talks [in Astana].”
Separately, Kurds set thee main conditions to negotiate with the regime.

Hadiya Yousef, a Syrian Kurdish official leading the establishment of the federal project told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that the doors of negotiations held with Russia ahead of the direct talks with the Syrian regime are now open, adding that a meeting was recently held in the Hmeimim Air Base between representatives of the self-administration and Russian officials to prepare for direct talks with the Syrian regime, under Moscow’s supervision.

Yousef added that those talks are held separately from the ongoing preparations linked to the Astana talks. The Kurdish official set three basic conditions to negotiate with the regime. “The regime should accept the demographic changes happening in all Syrian areas, it should agree on issuing a constitution that guarantees the rights of all the components of the Syrian people, and it should also acknowledge the federal Kurdish experience as a model to solve the Syrian crisis,” she said.