Govern­ment troops take key wa­ter fa­cil­ity

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

Syr­ian govern­ment troops gained con­trol of the main wa­ter source for Da­m­as­cus on Saturday, as the mil­i­tary worked to se­cure it and re­move land mines in a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment that caps weeks of fight­ing with rebels in the area, ac­cord­ing to Syr­ian state TV and op­po­si­tion me­dia.

The de­vel­op­ment ends the stand­off over Ain el-Fi­jeh vil­lage that re­stricted the wa­ter flow to nearly 5 mil­lion res­i­dents of the Da­m­as­cus area for over a month. The fight­ing had also trapped tens of thou­sands of civil­ians in the Barada Val­ley area, where the wa­ter source is lo­cated.

The op­po­si­tion mon­i­tor­ing group Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said govern­ment forces en­tered Ain el-Fi­jeh along with am­bu­lances to trans­port the in­jured as part of a deal to end the fight­ing there.

A na­tion­wide cease-fire, bro­kered by Rus­sia and Tur­key and in place since Dec. 30, was tested by the fight­ing in the val­ley. The fight­ing was sparked by govern­ment claims that rebels poi­soned the wa­ter source at Ain el-Fi­jeh — a claim the rebels de­nied.

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