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Syrian opposition urges UN: Halt truce violations

Residents in Wadi Barada said government-led air strikes have rained down daily since the announcement of the ceasefire
A Syrian man walks past posters of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on 3 January 2017. (AFP)

Syria's main opposition coalition urged the United Nations Security Council on Thursday to put an "immediate" halt to what it said were government violations of a shaky ceasefire.

The truce, brokered by government backer Russia and rebel sponsor Turkey, has brought quiet to large parts of Syria since it began on 30 December. But it is threatened by a government bid to retake rebel-held Wadi Barada, source of the main water supply to Damascus.

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The coalition "condemns attempts by the government of (President) Bashar (al-Assad), Iran and their terrorist militias to continue with violations and with the war crimes that are being carried out, especially in the Wadi Barada area," the National Coalition opposition body said.

It called on the Security Council and the guarantors of the truce to "halt attacks immediately and to condemn and punish those who commit violations".

Row over ceasefire continues

Meanwhile, residents in Wadi Barada said government-led air strikes have rained down daily since the announcement of the ceasefire, where the government is attempting to seize back control of the water source from rebels.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government helicopters dropped rockets and at least 15 barrel bombs on the area while Lebanese Hezbollah militants clashed with rebels on the ground.

“There is no electricity here, no medicines and very little food,” said one resident, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety. “The barrel bombs are raining on us. The ceasefire has changed nothing.”

The ceasefire was meant to pave the way for peace negotiations later this month in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Iran on Thursday responded to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who on Wednesday accused Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government of violating a ceasefire Ankara brokered with Moscow last week.

Cavusoglu warned that the “violations” were jeopardising planned peace talks in Kazakhstan later this month. Iran criticised the “unconstructive remarks” and said they could “further complicate the current situation” in Syria.