Regime forces capture Aleppo's main water supply plant

Syrian regime forces continue to make gains against Daesh as their offensive brings them to the banks of the Euphrates River, while Turkey, Russia and the US are trying to make sure their allies don't clash in northern Syria.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

The Assad regime cemented its control over Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, in December when the last opposition-held enclave in its eastern districts gave into months of siege.

Syrian regime forces and their allies have taken control of the strategic town of al Khafsa from Daesh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Tuesday.

The town, located east of Aleppo on the bank of the Euphrates River, hosts water treatment and pumping plants that supply water to the city and outlying areas.

According to the UK-based war monitor, the town was captured after Daesh fighters retreated from the area.

The pumping station in the town had been suspended for the past two months because of fighting, leaving the residents of Aleppo to rely on ground wells or water purchased from private vendors.

Aleppo, once Syria’s most populous city, is still recovering after years of heavy aerial bombardments by regime warplanes severely damaged much of its infrastructure.

The city was finally overrun by regime forces after the last opposition-held inner-city enclave surrendered in December following months of fighting.

The fall of the city was a major blow to the opposition, who have been battling to overthrow Bashar al Assad’s regime since March 2011.

But mediation efforts designed to end the conflict led by Turkey, Russia and Iran have since worked to bring representatives from the regime and the opposition to the negotiation table.

UN-led attempts to revive the peace process in Geneva have also taken shape, but to little avail.

Turkish military vehicles drive towards the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria March 7, 2017. (Reuters)

Trying to avoid further clashes

On the ground, Turkish, Russian and US forces have been coordinating to make sure their allies in northern Syria do not clash with each other as they lead three separate campaigns against Daesh.

Turkey supports the Free Syrian Army opposition group, which, since August, has secured a strip of land adjacent to the Turkish border.

But the US, Turkey’s NATO ally, has been aiding the YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation.

Russia, meanwhile, has backed the Assad regime throughout the conflict.

Russian soldiers on patrol in Aleppo, Syria, February 2, 2017. (Reuters)

Local ceasefire in place

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that a local ceasefire had been agreed to in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

The truce started on March 6 and will last until March 20, the ministry said.

But according to the SOHR, warplanes carried out at least five air raids against opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday.

The White Helmets search-and-rescue group said they dug up bodies of a child and an adult from the rubble after strikes on Harasta, inside the opposition-held pocket.

Regime forces also hit the area with rocket fire as clashes between the opposition and pro-regime forces continued on the frontline, SOHR added.

However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry website denied that there had been any violations of the ceasefire.

TRTWorld and agencies