Activists call 'massacre' as blood flows in Damascus water-wars
Local activists said the attack was caused by tank shelling by pro-regime forces striking the centre in the town of Deir Qanoun, in the Wadi Barada valley, causing additional injuries.
Videos recorded at the scene in the aftermath of the attack show a number of bodies lying on the white-tiled bloodstained floor of a building, covered in blankets acting as shrouds surrounded by rubble and broken furniture.
Clashes between pro-regime troops, including the Lebanese Shia paramilitary group Hizballah, and rebel forces were ongoing in the valley following the attack, local media activists reported, in areas including Basima, Ard al-Dahra and approaching rebel-held Ain al-Fija, a town that contains springs that serve as Damascus' main water supply.
Water from this source has been cut to Damascus since late December amid mutual accusations from regime and rebel groups over who is responsible.
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In comment to The New Arab both the UN and the Red Cross have said they are seeking access to the area but are unable to enter due to ongoing fighting.
On Friday the governor of Damascus province said that engineers had entered Ain al-Fija to repair damage to the pumping station, with reports of a settlement agreement that would see some rebels leave the area, and others remain.
However, any deal appeared to collapse on Saturday after armed men killed the head negotiator overseeing talks to repair the pumping station once again amid mutual accusations from regime and rebel groups over who is responsible.
Ongoing fighting in the Wadi Barada region has jeopardised a Russia-Turkey backed ceasefire for Syria that came into place in late December, restricted access to mains water to more than 5 million people in Damascus, and raised concerns over the wellbeing of an estimated 45,000 people in the area caught in the crossfire with international monitoring or aid groups not present on the ground to assess needs.
Talks between Syria's government and opposition groups are set to take place in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on 23 January.