Clashes kill 9 near Damascus despite truce

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BEIRUT: At least nine people, among them seven government soldiers, were killed in fighting near the Syrian capital Damascus overnight, despite a fragile nationwide truce, a monitor said on Saturday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting was continuing on Saturday in Wadi Barada, a rebel-held district northwest of Damascus that is home to the capital’s main water source. The Britain-based monitor said the overnight fighting had killed at least seven Syrian soldiers and wounded around 20 others, some of whom were in serious condition. Two civilians were also killed in the violence, the group said. The regime and the rebels have traded accusations of responsibility, with the government saying the rebels deliberately targeted water infrastructure and the opposition saying army strikes hit pumping facilities. Fighting has continued in the area despite the start on December 30 of a nationwide truce brokered by regime ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey. Water supplies from Wadi Barada have been cut since December 22.

AFP

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