Syrian regime forces entered the village of Ain Al-Fijah near Damascus today and took control of a strategic spring from opposition factions, as well as a pumping station that supplies most of the capital’s water, a military media unit run by Lebanese Shia jihadist group Hezbollah said.
A monitoring group said the Syrian army had not yet entered the village, but was expected to under a deal reached with the armed opposition who have been fighting to hold the area they have controlled for years.
The Wadi Barada valley, where Ain Al-Fijah is located, has become the most intense battlefront in the Syrian civil war and the disruption to water supplies after the Assad regime bombed pumping stations has caused severe shortages in Damascus since the beginning of the year.
“The Syrian army has entered Ain Al-Fijah…and raised the Syrian flag over the spring installation,” the Iran-backed Hezbollah said in a statement released by its media unit. It said this was part of a deal reached with opposition fighters who would depart the area for Idlib province near Aleppo under the terms of the agreement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said that the deal that was expected to take effect would see the opposition leave only with their light weapons for the northwestern province of Idlib, where much of the Syrian opposition is now based following their defeat in Aleppo.
The Assad regime’s army had not yet entered Ain Al-Fijah, or taken over the spring or pumping station, the Observatory said.
Syrian government forces and their allies, which include Shia jihadists Hezbollah, have advanced on the area in Wadi Barada in weeks of intense fighting, seeking to recapture the spring and pumping station.
Despite causing temporary damage to the pumping station to turn the people of Damascus against the rebellion, the Assad regime seeks to ensure it exerts permanent control over the strategic water sources there. Meanwhile, Iran proxy Hezbollah wishes to force the opposition out because Wadi Barada is also part of their arms and drugs trafficking routes that connect Iran to Lebanon by way of Syria.