Monday, July 13, 2020


DAMASCUS, A nationwide ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia is still holding in most Syrian areas, despite sporadic breaches near Damascus and in the countryside of the northern city of Aleppo, a monitor group reported Friday.

No civilian causalities were reported after a ceasefire went into force at midnight on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But the UK-based watchdog said that rebel-held areas in the Wadi Barada town northwest of Damascus came under air strikes, followed by clashes between the Syrian government forces and jihadi groups, mainly the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, which is excluded from the ceasefire as it is listed as a terrorist group, along with the Islamic State (IS).

The rebels in Wadi Barada, where the Figeh spring serves as the main water supply source for Damascus, have cut off drinking water from the capital for eight days, forcing the government to use reserve wells to meet the minimum water needs of more than 5 million residents in the city.

Such an outage has added burdens on Damascus as people are struggling to secure their needs of water, with no immediate solution in sight.

Besides Wadi Barada, two mortar shells fired by the government forces landed in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta area of the town of Jisreen, said the Observatory, without specifying causalities.

The Observatory, which says it relies on network of activists on the ground, said that jihadi groups, possibly linked to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, attacked government positions in the Christian town of Mhardeh in the central province of Hama, killing and wounding six soldiers.

Meanwhile, in the northern countryside of Hama, the government forces targeted rebel-held areas in the towns of Taybat Imam and Btaish with heavy machine guns.

In the southern province of Daraa, a barrel bomb fired by the government forces targeted the cental part of the province’s capital city that bears the same name, according to the Observatory.

Sporadic fighting was also reported in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is largely controlled by the rebels.

The latest ceasefire is the third in Syria. The first was in February, which lasted about three months before collapsing, and the second came in September but continued only a week.

The Syrian army said in a statement on Thursday that the war on IS, the Nusra Front and their allied militants would press on.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said in an interview on Thursday that the new ceasefire is more promising than its predecessors, as Russia has given stronger guarantees.

“We trust the Russian guarantor,” he said, adding that the new ceasefire represents a “reach chance” for reaching a political solution to the bloodletting in Syria.