Rebels hand over Damascus major water supply to Syrian regime forces

Published January 29th, 2017 - 06:00 GMT

Syrian government forces and repair workers have arrived at the springs that are the main source of Damascus' water supply after rebels began an agreed pullout, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

Repair teams have begun examining the Ein al-Fijeh spring and water pumping station, and the capital's supply may be reconnected within days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

An estimated 5.5 million people in the Damascus region have suffered severe water shortages since the facilities were damaged in late December, several days into a government offensive on the rebel-held area north-west of the city.

The warring parties blamed each other for the damage.

Repair crews began work on the spring in mid-January under an agreement between local rebels and the government but were pulled out again a day later after a government-appointed mediator was shot dead under disputed circumstances.

The continuing fighting in the Barada river valley around the spring was a source of contention at talks between government and rebel negotiators in the Kazakh capital of Astana earlier this week.

Rebels insisted the fighting was a breach of a nation-wide ceasefire that went into effect at the end of December, while the government side said its operations in the area were aimed at extremists and would continue.

The Astana talks, sponsored by government allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, saw both sides affirm their commitment to the truce.

The sponsors said they would set up a trilateral implementation mechanism for the ceasefire, although they gave no details as to how it would work.


© 2019 dpa GmbH

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