A summary about the situation in Wadi Barada valley
Wadi Barada valley is an area where several villages and towns are located at the Barada River bank. The villages are Ain Al-Khadra, Bassima, Ain Al-Fijah, Deir Meqarren, Kafr Al-Zait, Deir Qanoun, Al-Hussainiyah, Kafr Al-Awameed, Barhalia, and Wadi Barada marketplace.
All of these villages are located at the foothill of two mountain ranges.
These areas have been liberated since early 2012, and they are strategically important because Ain Al-Fijeh water spring which provides Damascus with water is located there. In addition, these areas link the areas of Al-Hameh and Qudsayya in the east with Al-Zabadani and Madaya in the west, and Al-Qalamoun and Rankous in the north.
The Military situation:
There can be no military success in Wadi Barada as the regime is in control of the mountains overlooking the valley, including Al-Nabi Habeel Mountain and the mountains of the Fourth Squad and the Republican Guards.
Moreover, the valley is surrounded by several regime barracks, including Al-Takiyah Barack (the Suicide Squad) on Al-Zabadani road, and military zones such as the Fourth Squad and the Republican Guards. These military zones are vast stretches of land in the villages of Wadi Barada reaching Al-Dreij airbase and Al-Dimas desert area, and they used to be owned by locals, but the regime seized them to make them military zones, and to build Housing complexes in them such as Jadedat Al-Shaibani Housing Complex and Al-Dimas Housing Complex.
In addition, Hezbollah recently captured the mountain towns of Harerah and Afra forcing there residents to leave them in order to cordon the whole valley, in addition to the neighboring towns of Madaya and Al-Zabadani.
The military factions in the area are local factions supported by fighters from nearby areas such as Palmyra, Qudsayya, Al-Hameh and Al-Zabadani. ISIL has no presence in the valley as some of its cells have been vanquished by the local factions. As for Fateh Al-Sham (Jabhat Al-Nusra), it also has no presence as its fighters have previously left the area heading towards Idlib.
The factions own simple light and medium weapons only, and there are no heavy weapons in the area, not even anti-armour weapons as the valley have always been neglected by the FSA.
The Humanitarian situation:
There are more the 100,000 residents in the valley including the original locals in addition to the IDPs who came from the areas of Ghouta, Darayya and Al-Zabadani in Damascus countryside. Wadi Barada was a relatively safe place for those IDPs.
The valley has been almost completely besieged for three years. The regime prevented providing the valley residents with all basic goods, and put constraint on locals’ movement. It also used to arrest woman at checkpoints in order to pressurize the opposition fighters, and to swap detainees in each time the situation intensified in the area.
Today, 100,000 civilians face the dangers of genocide, and may be forced to evacuate their villages.
Since the regime and its allies ended evacuating Aleppo and forcing its people outside their neighborhoods, they launched an offensive against the valley. Regime forces have been trying to storm the valley from several sides amid intense regime shelling using barrel bombs, missiles, mortars and tanks, in addition to Hezbollah’s Feil missile shelling.
The shelling put all service facilities out of service including the Civil Defense teams. The medical council has been targeted, and all communication service have been cut off. Most important of all, the shelling targeted Ain Al-Fijeh water spring damaging its facility and putting it out of service (see attacked photo). The rumours the regime has spread about poisoning the spring water or pouring diesel into the water are false. The water has been cut off even in Wadi Barada valley itself. The regime spread these rumours in order to turn the public opinion in Damascus against the opposition factions in the valley, and to authorize a genocide against its locals.
Prepared by Shahed Min Qalb Al-Hadath