Wadi Barada calls Syria peace conference 'stab in back'

Wadi Barada calls Syria peace conference 'stab in back'
2 min read
16 January, 2017
As Syrian rebel and opposition groups announce they will attend talks with the regime in Astana later this month, residents in besieged Wadi Barada continue to suffer, activists say.
Some Wadi Barada have opted for a regime promise of safe passage out [AFP]
Activists in the besieged Damascus valley of Wadi Barada have slammed an announcement by Syrian opposition groups that they will attend talks with the regime in Kazakhstan later this month.

Civil society groups and local councils in Wadi Barada issued a statement on Monday describing the Astana conference as a "stab in the back" for residents in the valley.

They have been subjected to daily bombardments by pro-Damascus forces despite a nationwide ceasefire being in place.

"We were hoping that they [opposition groups] would show a patriotic stance - which history would forever immortalise - by announcing the collapse of the political process in Syria and not going to Astana," the groups said in a statement published on the pro-opposition Orient news site.

"[The] Assad regime never abode by the ceasefire and continued its military campaign on Wadi Barada with the help of Hizballah terrorists," it followed.

While most of Syria has remained relatively peaceful since a truce began on 30 December, Wadi Barada has been subject to fierce assaults since the start of the war in 2011.

Syrian regime artillery and tanks overlooking the valley repeatedly pound the villages, while Hizballah and pro-regime militias have launched a number of assaults to capture villages.

Damascus has accused rebel groups in Wadi Barada of cutting water supplies to the capital, while the opposition say a water plant in the area was destroyed by a regime barrel bomb.

Both have traded blame for the killing of a regime negotiator over the weekend.

Wadi Barada civil society groups said that they would hold the opposition attending talks in the Kazakh capital on 23 January responsible for any more deaths in the valley.

Rebel groups such as Jaish al-Islam will also attend the Astana talks bringing hope for many that the six-year war could end. 

Wadi Barada residents fear they will be expelled from their homes in the meantime, as has happened in other opposition-held towns around Damascus.