November 24, 2014
By Osama Abu Zeid and Dan Wilkofsky
AMMAN: The Syrian army escalated its four-day assault Monday on a rebel-controlled town outside Damascus that is home to a water spring servicing five million people as rebels cut the water supply in retaliation.
After the Syrian army unsuccessfully attempted to storm the town last Friday, “rebels cut off drinking water to some neighborhoods in Damascus...and reduced pumping in other areas,” Hadi al-Manjid, an Orient News correspondent in Deir al-Asafir, told Syria Direct Monday.
Ein al-Fijeh, a rebel-held town 15 km northwest of Damascus in the Wadi Barada area, is home to the main spring which provides drinking water both to the capital, including the wealthy districts of Mezzeh and Malki that count top regime officials and supporters among its population, and the rebel-controlled suburbs.
The spring at Ein al-Fijeh, located in Wadi Barada, provides water for many Damascus neighborhoods.
Last November, Syria Direct reported that rebels threatened the regime with a water shutoff if government forces targeted the area as part of its campaign to recapture the nearby Qalamoun mountains.
On Monday, regime forces pounded Ein al-Fijeh with artillery shells and surface-to-surface Grad rockets, reported pro-opposition Smart News Agency.
Although rebels have threatened to blow up the spring, al-Manjid says that move is unlikely as “the regime won't be impacted directly [by the resulting water shortage], rather, it is civilians who will be.”
Blowing up the Ain al-Fijeh spring would also justify the regime storming the town to fight “the terrorists who cut off the water,” al-Manjid said, and subsequently “conduct massacres on this pretext.”