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Syrian regime forces launch new assault on Wadi Barada Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syrian regime forces launch new assault on Wadi Barada

Syrians have dubbed the battler for Wadi Barada the 'Water War' [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2017

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Syrian opposition media have reported a pro-regime forces launched an offensive on the Wadi Barada valley near Damascus, with an Iranian general and Hizballah fighters killed.

Syrian regime forces have launched a new offensive on the rebel-held Wadi Barada valley close to Damascus, which has seen the force lose several Hizballah fighters and an Iranian commander during the attack, according to opposition media.

Opposition media named the Iranian Republican Guard officer as Brig. General Gholam Ali Kalizada, but there has been no confirmation from Tehran about the reports.

Heavy fighting took place around the village of al-Husseiniya on Sunday, where the small rebel enclave has come under sustained bombing and shelling despite a ceasefire being in place.

After a brief period of quiet on Sunday, barrel bombs hit villages in the rebel strip while heavy fighting on the ground resumed.

Pro-Damascus media reported that regime forces captured the spring situated in the valley, which has been subject of the fighting.

Regime fighters reportedly took the village of Ain al-Fijah - the location of the valley's water plant - during Sunday's offensive after capturing surrounding mountains.

The Syrian regime had accused rebels in the area of polluting the spring and cutting water supplies to the capital.

Syrian opposition media say regime bombing destroyed the village's water plant, which caused the water outage in Damascus.

A video released by opposition activists allegedly shows the water plant coming under attack from a regime barrel bomb.

Russia has also accused Islamic State group and Fatah al-Sham fighters of being present in the valley - who are not part of a ceasefire agreement - a charge Syrian rebels strongly deny.

As many as 100,000 civilians could be trapped in the Syrian rebel enclave close to the Damascus, which has been under a brutal siege and bombing.

Free Syrian Army groups gave the regime a deadline of 8pm on Saturday to end its assault on the landstrip, which is said to be guarded by other fighters from the moderate rebel faction.

Elsewhere in the country, Syrian rebels reportedly shelled Fuaa and Kafraya, two besieged Shia-majority villages in rebel-held Idlib province.

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