Wadi Barada ceasefire goes into effect, amnesty for fighters as repair teams set to fix damaged water station

With pro-Assad forces meters away from the Ein al-Fijeh village, home to the spring that provides water for most of Damascus, opposition and regime representatives reached a ceasefire agreement Thursday afternoon.

The regime launched a military campaign on December 22 to retake not only Ein al-Fijeh, but the entire rebel-held pocket of villages 15km northwest of Damascus that surround it.  

Thursday's deal includes measures to repair the Ein al-Fijeh water-pumping station, damaged in the battle, and outlines steps for the amnesty or evacuation of Wadi Barada’s opposition fighters. It is unclear whether or not the regime will restore full civil and military control over the area—as in previous reconciliation agreements—and there is no mention of the surrender of rebel weaponry.

The agreement is the second since the start of the nearly four-week battle for Damascus’s primary water source. An earlier deal collapsed last weekend hours after it was reached when the lead mediator, Ahmed al-Ghadban, was assassinated.

Translated copy of the ceasefire agreement, sent to Syria Direct by Abu Mohammad al-Baradawi, spokesman for the Wadi Barada Media Center,

“Several hours ago, a delegation including the following members entered [Wadi Barada]:

Brigadier-General Qais al-Farwa, Governor of Outer Damascus Hamam Haidar and an envoy from the German embassy in Damascus representing the International Committee of Red Cross.

The abovementioned delegation met with both civilian and military representatives of the area and reached an agreement on the following terms:

1) A ceasefire and end to military operations in the area will take effect starting at 3pm today [Thursday].

2) Repair workers will enter the Ein al-Fijeh water pumping station. At the same time, [opposition] fighters and factions from al-Jaroud [the villages in the area surrounding Wadi Barada] will enter the area [Wadi Barada].

3) There will be amnesty for fighters wishing to remain, and they will leave [Wadi Barada] within six months.

4) Those who refuse amnesty will have their names recorded and will be moved to Idlib, under the protection of the United Nations and supervised by the International Red Cross.

5) The army and its supporting militias will leave Baseema in a determined period of time. The army will remain in points that it reached in Ein al-Fijeh.

6) There will be reconstruction on the villages of Baseema and Ein al-Fijeh in a determined period of time.

With the agreement of all, the meeting was adjourned. We await the pending execution of these terms.”

 

 

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award. Follow Noura on Twitter: @nanozain81

Justin Schuster

Justin Schuster graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Affairs and Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He was a 2015-2016 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. Justin worked as a reporter and translator with Syria Direct before serving as the Managing Director.