Syria Takes Key Valley Near Damascus, Rebels Withdraw

Deal Gives Syrian Govt Control Over Important Water Source

After weeks of fighting, Syria and the rebels in the Wadi Barada valley have reached a deal in which the rebels will be allowed to safely withdraw from the area, giving the Assad government control over a vital valley which provides water supplies to most of the capital city.

Syrian forces enter Ain al-Fija on Saturday, the town which has a major pumping station which the government has struggled to keep control of, and to keep running at all. Fighting in the area further damaged infrastructure, worsening water shortages in Damascus, though officials say they expect to have the repairs done quickly now that they can safely get teams in.

The two sides had previously made deals on getting the infrastructure repaired, though with fighting continuing to rage, this mostly didn’t happen. The rebel pullout, while resolving this, also adds to government control of metro Damascus, which is now nearly absolute.

It is unclear how many rebels were left in the area, and where they will withdraw to. Previous deals have mostly sent rebels to Idlib Province, but that province is seeing a huge surge in infighting among different rebel factions, which may make safely busing new factions into the area difficult.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • There’s the tiny little fact that these “rebels” – almost all al Nusra – poisoned the water supply of 5.5 million Damascus people with diesel as revenge for the defeat in Aleppo, and then blew up the pumping station. Western media propagandists for the terrorists, like Julian “Jihadi Julian” Röpcke of Bild, denied that the terrorists had poisoned the water (though they themselves celebrated doing so on social media) and claimed that Assad had bombed the pumping station himself. They didn’t of course attempt to explain why he’d want to destroy water supplies to his own capital over which he now has total control. But then terrorist supporters don’t exactly have a lot in the way of IQ.

    • nhmakingwaves

      Potentially relevant possible facts, but the obnoxious attitude sucks.

    • Bianca

      With so much fake news, it is really impossiible to find one MSM anywhere in the West to even pretend to cover the events as journalists. It is all advocacy wall to wall. Defending the indefensible policies to the end.

      This latest attrocity — contamination of drinking water — to be so covered up by media is frightening. How far will they go ilying for their cause? And since the terrorists themselves are not really that important to them, how would advancing Libya style mayhem advance their goals? Is it really that important to destroy the last standing secular country in the Middle East?

      From different sources it does appear that over 2,000 fighters layed down arms and signed reconciliation agreements that imply amnesty. But around 400 have ben bused out to Idlib. They are in no danger there — they belong to Al-Nusra, and they now control Idlib.

      So much has been made of transporting various groups to Idlib. But it is less complicated then it looks. Wadi Barada — perfect example. Many local fighting groups depended entirely on Al-Nusra for everything — on arms, cash, food supplies, and on a group of non -local experienced fighters. In the last year or so, locals lost faith in Al -Nusra victory, and wanted to return to civilian life. That meant that Al-Nusra element had to go. After the loss of Aleppo, Al-nusra started to be more agressive in trying to prevent local Salafi groups from laying down arms. This is why it took so long to get the deal dine on Wadi Barada, as Al-Nusra faction broke them. But in the end, facing military defeat and complete loss of support from locals — they had to go. The reconciliation center has the routine down — this is how over 1,000 such deals were signed, to remove Al-Nusra elements from localities. The reconciliation offers locals a great deal of incentive to split from non-locals. They get financial aid, become part of larger humanitarian work, and have right to restore their own pre-war police and local governance.
      I remember how loudly media screamed for humanitarian aid to be distributed throughout the country? Yes, that was in days when these localities were controed by Al-Nusra. Once fighters are gone — all interest in humanitarianism has evaporated. But Russia collects donations from many countries, and the humanitarian aid is moving now almost unimpeded outside of Idlib and ISIS controlled areas.

      There are FRIGHTENING examples of EU calling out its members or candidates if they contributed to Russian organized drive to collect emergency aid to tens of thousands people after the liberation of Aleppo. A small country, Serbia, a EU candidate, was publicly made example of, by criticizing its donation for Aleppo. In EU world, Aleppo was conquered against its will – and thus Russia should not be given any assistance. Serbia had to defend itself by listing the contents of their shipment, that largely consisted of blankets, tents, diapers, detergent, soap and toothpaste.

      IT IS AMAZING that EU bureaucrats cannot see that they are being judged by the world opinion outside their control.