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Chaos in Wake of Syria Ceasefire

Chaos continued to rein in war torn Syria yesterday.  As rebel groups issued a statement declaring a freeze in negotiations, a purported US airstrike devastated a Jabha Fath Sham headquarters in the north Syrian town of Sarmada yesterday.

The groups have cited continued violations of the ceasefire as regime troops continue to try and advance on the strategic area of Wadi Barada.

“The regime and its allies have not stopped shooting and have launched major and frequent violations, notably in the regions of Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghouta.

“Any [advance] on the ground goes against the [ceasefire] agreement and if things don’t return to how they were before, the accord will be considered null and void,” the statement added.

Major water pipelines to the city of Damascus are controlled from Wadi Barada and regime forces are keen to take the area back to secure water resources for areas under their control.  Currently nearly 2 million people in Damascus are without water.  Regime sources have continued to state that the area is under Jabha Fath Sham control (formerly Jabha Nusra), a fact that is denied by locals in the area, and that they are not covered in the ceasefire deal.  Rebel leaders have stated that JFS is covered in the deal and attacking any non ISIS territories is a violation of the agreement.  It is worth noting that up to the time of the writing of this article, the actual text of the agreement and who signed it remains a mystery.

Russia says that it has recorded 27 violations of the ceasefire in the past 24 hours including 8 in the province of Hama, 7 in Aleppo, 7 in Latakia and 5 in Damascus.


In related news, another attack was carried out against a JFS headquarters in Sarmada yesterday.  It is the second purported US attack, this time cited to be from a B-52 bomber, in three days.  The death toll thus far has reached 30 and could climb higher.  The timing of the attacks, lack of transparency by negotiators, and a new offensive by the US has rebel forces and Syrians in general searching for answers.

Rebels have been trying to unify their ranks in recent weeks with little progress to report thus far.  The two primary factions of Ahrar Sham and JFS have yet to come to an agreement.  The smaller groups are generally assumed to follow the lead of the two large factions.  JFS has continued to cite that they have severed ties with Al Qaida, as requested by Ahrar as a condition for unification.  Ahrar Sham says that some additional changes must be forthcoming as well if they are to join ranks with JFS.


Bilal Abdul Kareem

Bilal Abdul Kareem is the owner of On The Ground News.

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One thought on “Chaos in Wake of Syria Ceasefire

  1. Sarmada (سرمدا) is in the midst of a cluster of IDP camps, one of them Al-Kamoneh (الكمونة)* which lies on a hillside a couple of miles to the south-east of the town and was bombed or shelled in early May, the aggressor unclear. Turkey, according to several TRT World reports just before Christmas, has been busy in that camp and others erecting more accommodation, the charity IHH heavily involved – IHH were greeting evacuees right up next to government positions in Aleppo West during the evacuation, so appear to be roaming freely in Idlib and western Aleppo governorates (doing good work, one should add). So, any bombing operations in or on the approaches to Sarmada will be close to IDP concentrations. Obama seems to be thrashing about somewhat during his last days in office: knifing Israel at the UN, trying to skewer Trump through hacking allegations, being examples. So, one simply doesn’t know what chaotic notions may be in his head about Syria, where his entire policy in that country – if policy is the word – is in the process of being rendered an empty sham by Russia and Turkey between them. Whoever bombed Sarmada would have needed pinpoint intelligence and accuracy to justify an attack in the midst of an area riddled with IDP camps and, since mid-December, Turkish charity workers and their equipment. If JFS are on the ground in that area, Turkey can talk to them, which means also that Russia can, through Turkey. They can be steered that way. The odd man out is the US. Unpredictable behaviour from that quarter seems to fit. Whatever Turkey’s and Russia’s plans are, it will suit Obama to try to scupper them, through his influence with Kurdish militants, through use of his air force or even through some dirty deal or other with Daesh or – the prime monster amongst all or any of them – Assad. Roll on January 20th.

    *Name derives from cumin, though I am not certain the camp itself bears this name, even if it is generally referred to by it. I did a small study of that camp here:

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