By AFP – Jan 07,2017 – JORDAN TIMES
This frame grab from video provided By Yomyat Kzefeh Hawen Fi Dimashq (Diary of a Mortar Shell in Damascus), a Damascus-based media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows Syrian residents filling up buckets and gallons of spring water from a pipe on the side of the road in Damascus, Syria (AP photo)
BEIRUT — Repair teams were poised to enter a restive region near Damascus on Saturday to begin work on restoring the Syrian capital’s water supply, state media said.
Millions of people have been without water for weeks after fighting damaged key infrastructure in the Wadi Barada region that is the main water source for Damascus.
Clashes continued there overnight and into Saturday morning, killing seven Syrian government soldiers and two civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
But by late morning, state media said maintenance teams had arrived in the area 15 kilometres northwest of Damascus and were “prepared to enter” to begin repair work.
A source close to the regime said a temporary ceasefire had been agreed to allow the repair crews to enter, though it could take days before the mains supply is restored.
Fighting has raged in Wadi Barada for several weeks, despite the December 30 start of a ceasefire brokered by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The truce has held across much of the country, though it does not apply to the Daesh terror group or former Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front, now known as Fateh Al Sham Front.
The government says Fateh Al Sham is present in Wadi Barada, and blames rebels there for cutting water to Damascus since December 22.
Rebels deny the extremist group is in the region and say the mains supply was severed after government strikes hit pumping facilities in the area.
5.5 million without water — UN
The fighting has left some 5.5 million people in Damascus and its suburbs facing water shortages, the United Nations warned earlier this week.
It said sabotaging water supplies was a war crime, but made no direct accusations of blame.
Russia launched its own military intervention in Syria in September 2015, aimed at bolstering ally President Bashar Assad against the rebels.