Hezbollah stops Russian diplomats from entering Damascus suburb
A Syrian man rides a motorbike past a cemetery in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on January 3, 2017. (AFP/Abd Doumany)
Hezbollah militiamen on Wednesday blocked a Russian military delegation from entering the besieged Wadi Bardi area in the countryside of Damascus, according to local sources.
The sources, preferring anonymity for security reasons, said residents of the area had invited the delegation -- consisting of four Russian military officers -- to oversee implementation of a ceasefire agreement that went into effect last week.
The delegation, however, was stopped from entering the area by Hezbollah militiamen before being forced to return to Damascus, the sources alleged.
In a related development the same day, Syrian regime aircraft reportedly dropped a number of improvised "barrel bombs" on Wadi Bardi.
Since Dec. 23, at least 30 civilians have been killed in attacks by the Syrian regime and allied militias in the Wadi Bardi area.
According to local sources, the Syrian regime and its allies have violated the ceasefire numerous times in Wadi Bardi.
Brokered by Turkey and Russia, the ceasefire agreement went into effect almost one week ago.
By Halit Suleyman and Ali H. M. Abo Rezeg