Bellingcat: Who Cut Off Damascus's Water?

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MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
 
January 4 · Issue #21 · View online
MENAroundup

MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. lars@menaroundup.com

Key developments
  • A nationwide ceasefire, brokered by Russia and Turkey, has come into effect on December 29th. This is the third truce after two failed attempts in February and September 2016. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham is excluded from the deal and so is the Islamic State, of course.
  • Interestingly, Russia classified both Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as ‘moderate’: Both groups are covered by the deal. This shift - Moscow used to refer to the groups as terrorists - in Russia’s position is likely a concession to Turkey that maintains good contacts especially with the Islamist movement Ahrar al-Sham. 
  • The ceasefire, however, could collapse soon. Violations are reported from all sides and, as usual, they blame each other for casting the first stone. Rebels reportedly launched an offensive in northern Hama and attacked the regime enclave of al-Fu'ah in Idlib province. Regime airstrikes also continued and ground troops advanced further in East Ghouta, where neither Fatah al-Sham nor the Islamic State maintain a presence.
  • Concerning this matter, the Wadi Barada pocket, northeast of Damascus, is a hotspot. The local al-Fija springs are essential for the capital’s water supply. Yet, they have been damaged. The questions are: Was the regime stupid enough to damage its vital infrastructure accidentally? Was it the regime’s intention to find a pretext for an offensive on the area despite the ceasefire? Are rebels trying to exert pressure by threatening millions of civilians, a foolishness that certainly provokes a harsh reaction? Bellingcat investigated on the issue, check the link below.
  • U.S. drones targeted Jabhat Fatah al-Sham members and a headquarter in Idlib province, killing at least 14 jihadists. 
Articles worth reading
Who Cut Off Damascus’s Water?
The Five Most Important Events in Syria in 2016
Russian Ground Troops, Including Chechens, Reportedly Fighting in Syria
Battle for Mosul is emerging as a lost opportunity
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