Philip Harris ConflictDaily.com 14 March 2017
The Syrian government regained the valley area just north of the capital Damascus in December of 2016, called Wadi Barada. It had been under the control of rebels opposed to the Syrian government since 2012 when it was captured shortly after the uprising in 2011 began. Government warplanes were a large part of recapturing the valley of Wadi Berada because, SAA (Syrian Army) forces surrounded the valley, chocking it from outside help while the Syria air force bombed inside the valley itself.
The United Nations (U.N.) put a statement out accusing the government of Syria with war crimes in this assault. The valley of Wadi Berada supplies most of Damascus’s water through the natural springs coming from the valley floor. Therefore, whoever controls this valley just north of the capitol will control the water supply as well. That is a vital logistical nightmare the Syrian army had to defeat.
December of 2015, the Syrian air force and government was informing the international community that the rebels in the valley were contaminating and poisoning the springs coming from the valley. Impacting about 5 million people’s water supply south in Damascus. Shortly after using the poisoned water excuse, the SAA began its work of destroying another one of its own citizens cities. The Rebels desperately wanted to hold the valley and the water supply but were defeated when the Syrian air force dropped many bombs in the area targeting their emplacements.
The U.N. statement says they found no evidence of water being contaminated by the rebel groups but did find evidence of airstrikes targeting springs. Specifically, a U.N. commission led by a Brazilian investigator by the name of Paulo Pinheiro stated that “While the presence of armed group fighters at (the) spring constituted a military target, the extensive damage inflicted to the spring had a devastating impact on more than five million civilians in both government and opposition controlled areas who were deprived of regular access to potable water for over one month”. The U.N. continues stating this attack on the springs and water supplies constitutes a war crime.
With the SAA and the Syrian air force wrestling back control over the western part and most populated part of Syria they have laid sieges to many of the cities and valley just like Wadi Berada. Siege warfare is very effective but is an immoral form of warfare that leaves many civilians stuck inside the siege with no food water or shelter during combat. These sieges cause many towns and villages to surrender their entire populations into government control. The government then sends these civilians to other parts of the country and moves people who were loyal to the government in.
Population swaps in Syria play right into the hands of the Syria president Bashar al Assad and his ally the Iranians because they are securing their foothold of the western cities that are connected to the Mediterranean sea. A foothold in which the Israelis have sworn to prevent and stated that it was one of their highest priority red lines for Iran.