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.