Aleppo, government wrest water pumping station from IS
For over two months the city has been in the grip of a water emergency. The jihadi militias had cut all supply sources. The next army objective is the military airport of Jarrah. Russia, Turkey and the United States meet to coordinate attacks against Daesh. Ghouta ceasefire comes into force.
Aleppo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian government forces have recaptured a water pumping station of strategic importance for Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an NGO based in London, with a network of informants on the ground reports that the area had been without water supplies for almost two months. Islamic State (IS) militias in fact had cut off sources of supply.
The supply of water, in addition to electricity, is one of the most serious problems faced by the local population. AsiaNews sources in the area, such as the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins, Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen and the parish priest of the Latin parish Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh, spoke of "a dramatic situation".
In a statement the Observatory explains that the Damascus army "has regained the area of Al-Khafsa", on the outskirts of Aleppo, taking control "of a water pumping station".
The Daesh militiamen [Arabic acronym for the IS] have fled from the advance of Syrian troops, backed by Russian air raids.
The official State news agency Sana, citing a military source, said that "dozens" of jihadists were killed in the operation.
Aleppo was once the second largest city of Syria, as well as the economic and commercial capital of the country. Since the beginning of the war it was divided into two sectors, the West controlled by the government and the area east in rebel hands. Last December, just before Christmas, opposition fighters and militias brokered a ceasefire, withdrawing from the city that is now under full government control.
However, fighting continues in the province of Aleppo with heavy air strikes and raids. According to the United Nations over 26 thousand people have fled the area since last February 25. The next objective of the regular forces is the recapture of the military airport Jarrah; the Islamic state had taken it over in January 2014, after the rebels had wrested it from the government in February 2013.
Meanwhile, senior Russian, Turkish and US military officials met yesterday in Turkey, to coordinate most of the military operations on the Syrian territory. The tripartite meeting focused on how to "avoid confrontations" between the various actors involved in the fight against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, while supporting opposing factions in the context of the conflict.
Meanwhile Russia has announced a two-week ceasefire in eastern Ghouta sector, the last opposition stronghold near Damascus. The area has been the scene of intensive fighting in recent months and is the general Islamic Army headquarters (Jaysh al-Islam), one of the major rebel groups.