Attacks Target Contested Wadi Barada Area and Idlib Province
Reports out of the contested Barada Valley near Damascus as well as the northern Idlib Province have Syrian forces continuing airstrikes and artillery fire, with locals reporting at least 22 civilians killed over the weekend between the two fronts.
The larger of the two incidents was in Wadi Barada, an area which is the source of water for the capital city, and has recently been the site of intense fighting. Shelling against a rebel-controlled village reportedly hit a village banquet hall which had been converted into a shelter for displaced civilians, killing 12 and wounding dozens.
Meanwhile, the rebel dominated Idlib Province, controlled largely by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, continued to be targeted by airstrikes, with pro-rebel officials saying 10 civilians were killed when airstrikes hit a marketplace in Maarat al-Misrin, a northern city.
In both cases, the rebels suggested the incidents violated the ongoing ceasefire, though it is unclear if that is the case, as the Nusra Front is excluded from the ceasefire, and targeting their territory during the deal is not restricted, despite some claims to the contrary by rebel factions.
This disagreement over the status of Nusra reflects the organization having changed its named over the summer, which rebels argue makes it a new group. Documents related to the ceasefire, however, make clear that the negotiators never envisioned them to be included.
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