Social media users across the Arab world have been using the hashtag “save Barada valley” to call for a halt in the fighting outside the Syrian capital Damascus.
In spite of the nationwide ceasefire agreement which came into effect on Friday, Syrian government troops and affiliated militias have continued to battle rebel groups in the valley. Pro-regime forces have reportedly launched airstrikes and artillery fire on the region.
Barada valley is reportedly excluded from the halt in fighting due to the alleged presence of fighters from the jihadist organization the Fatah al-Sham Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, who were not included in Friday’s ceasefire pact. Local civil society organizations have, however, denied the presence of the Front.
The area is critical for providing water to the capital, with a severe water shortage reported there since Dec. 22. One journalist tweeted the following last week:
Assad and Hezbollah shelling on Ain al-Fijah pumping facility, which supplies water to all of Damascus, has shut it down. pic.twitter.com/TkZhDNYMfm— هادي العبدالله Hadi (@HadiAlabdallah) December 27, 2016
The government claims instead that it was the rebels who introduced diesel fuel to the water source, forcing it to cut supplies to the capital.
Many Twitter users have demanded a stop to the violence in the Barada valley, with the hashtag having been used over 14,000 times.
ناشطون سوريون وعرب بدؤوا بالتغريد على هاشتاغ #أنقذوا_وادي_بردى ..كونوا مع الشام و بردى ..— د ـ أحمد موفق زيدان (@Ahmadmuaffaq) January 4, 2017
Syrian activists and Arabs have begun tweeting the hashtag #SaveBaradaValley...Stand with Syria and Barada.
Many have claimed that 100,000 Syrian civilians live in the area:
عندما نتحدث عن ١٠٠ الف إنسان و كأننا نتحدث عن رقم تخيل أخيك أن يكون بينهم او احد من اقربائك ماذا ستفعل ! #أنقذوا_وادي_بردى— ابو الهدى الحمصي (@aboalhodaalhoms) January 5, 2017
When we are talking about 100,000 people, and it has become just a number, imagine if your brother was among them, or another of your relatives, what would you do?
It is not clear whether there are indeed such a large number of residents still in the region. Reports have suggested over a thousand have already fled the area. The head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, reported that buses have arrived in the area for the purpose of evacuating locals, but he was unable to confirm the number of civilians remaining.
لا نريد مواد غذائية ولا مساعدات انسانية اوقفوا القصف والقتل المستمر على وادي بردى تحركوا لأنقاذ المدنيين#أنقذوا_وادي_بردى— ابو الهدى الحمصي (@aboalhodaalhoms) January 4, 2017
We do not want food or humanitarian aid, [we just want] a halt in the constant bombardment and killings in Barada valley. Act to save civilians!
Freedom for Syria There is still no ceasefire. Please, stop the bombing#انقذوا_وادي_بردي #SaveWadiBarada #Wadi_Barada pic.twitter.com/IYrvEW074G— Tania Chávez (@Tania_Tania_C) January 4, 2017
مائة ألف محاصر وثباتهم كالجبال الراسيات ونظام الإجرام مستمر في اختبار ثباتهم— محمد الحاج قاسم (@mhk_303) January 4, 2017
نسأل الله أن يمدكم بمدده #أنقذوا_وادي_بردى
One hundred thousand are under siege, and their steadfastness is that of upright mountains. The criminals of the regime continue to test their steadfastness. We ask God to help you through his assistance.
كنت أظن مجزرة حماة لن تتكرر بسبب وجود الإعلام— عبدالقادر محمد لهيب (@abdalkaderlhep2) January 4, 2017
الآن تيقنت أن العالم كله يريد موتنا أمام الكاميرات
لاجل ان لا تتكرر المأساة#أنقذوا_وادي_بردى pic.twitter.com/TaZiLXcbck
I thought the Hama massacre would not be repeated because of the presence of the media. Now we have realized that the whole world wants us to die in front of the cameras. May this tragedy not be repeated.
The ceasefire, which is currently holding elsewhere in Syria, was brokered by Russia and Turkey. Representatives of the government and the opposition are expected to meet for peace talks in Kazakhstan later this month.
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