Syrian opposition officials and monitors have confirmed that the Assad regime has continued its assault on a strategic valley, including the use of chemical weapons, despite a ceasefire that came into effect last week.
Forces under the control of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad have been assaulting the Wadi Barada valley over the past week, and have clashed with armed opposition factions near the village of Bseima since yesterday morning.
Opposition forces there have said that the Assad regime has been bombarding the village with missiles and bringing it under heavy artillery fire. They also confirmed that Bseima was struck with poisonous chlorine gas, resulting in the suffocation of an unknown number of civilians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based war monitor, also confirmed that the Assad regime had dropped at least ten barrel bombs on Bseima and Husseiniya in the Ain Al-Fijah spring area.
Wadi Barada is a fertile valley near the Syrian capital Damascus that supplies the vast majority of the capital's water supply via the Ain Al-Fijah spring.
In the past week, Damascus has suffered from water shortages which the Assad regime has sought to blame on opposition fighters blowing up the spring. However, footage later emerged showing regime helicopters barrel bombing the spring.
It is unclear why the Assad regime has been disrupting its own capital's water supply, but some have speculated that it is because the regime wants to remove any sympathy for the opposition from civilians around Damascus and to justify intensifying its assault against the people of Wadi Barada.
Turkey and Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement that came into effect a week ago after Moscow and Damascus' crushing victory in Aleppo proved to be a major setback to the opposition in a war now nearing its sixth year.
While the full details of the agreement remain unclear, as well as the signatories to the ceasefire, several sources indicate that Russia has attempted to exclude areas around Damascus from the deal. This has been rejected by the opposition, who state that any deal must be nationwide.