'Save Barada valley' trends as Syria fighting continues despite ceasefire

Published January 5th, 2017 - 10:35 GMT
The river Barada in Damascus, Jan. 3 2017 (Louai Beshara/AFP)
The river Barada in Damascus, Jan. 3 2017 (Louai Beshara/AFP)

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:

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.

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:

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.

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!

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.

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.

RA

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