World Bulletin / News Desk
Riyad Hijab, chief coordinator for Syria’s opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on the world body to demand an immediate halt to the regime’s "indiscriminate attacks" on civilians in Wadi Barada.
On Dec. 30, a ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia went into effect throughout Syria.
According to Hijab, the regime and its allies have violated the truce more than 399 times -- killing at least 271 people -- since it came into effect two weeks ago.
"Wadi Barada residents in particular have been among the main victims of these continued violations," he said.
He went on to assert that some 1,200 people had been displaced from the region within the first three days of the ceasefire due to fierce attacks by the regime.
"Without pause, regime air power has continued to target the Ayn Alfija springs and the villages of Baseimah, Kafr Zayt and Al-Husseineh," Hijab said.
He said truce violations were occurring on a daily basis in what he described as a "clear breach" of international law.
"Wadi Barada residents are facing continued, inhumane bombing raids, including the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs," he added, alleging that vital civilian infrastructure was deliberately being targeted.
"We are hearing reports that regime forces fired four rockets containing toxic chlorine gas into the village of Baseimah on Thursday [Jan. 5]," Hijab said.
According to the opposition negotiator, more than 100,000 people in Wadi Barada lack basic commodities, including food, water, electricity and medicine.
"Since mid-2015, the regime has waged a barbaric starve-or-surrender campaign against Wadi Barada in violation of international law," he said.
"Now it is using the ceasefire as cover to further pursue this cruel policy," Hijab said.
He also accused the regime and its allies of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, including the Ayn Alfija water-pumping station.
"The regime’s deliberate airstrikes on Ayn Alfija constitute war crimes," he said. "The regime must be held accountable for this violation of international law."
"We also call on the UN to support fact-finding efforts in Wadi Barada with a view to assigning responsibility for violations of international law perpetrated against civilians," the Hijab said.
He added: "The reigning culture of impunity in Syria must be replaced with accountability and the rule of law."