SYRIAN troops kept up the fight against al-Qaida north-west of Damascus yesterday as the UN-backed ceasefire entered its fourth day.
The army renewed its offensive against the Levant Conquest Front (LCF) — the rebranded Nusra Front — in Ayn al-Fijah, east of Wadi Barada, after being forced to abandon their recently gained positions north of the town overnight.
A military source in Damascus told the pro-government Al-Masdar News that soldiers of the 4th Mechanised Division had broken through to the outskirts of the village.
The Barada valley in the mountainous west supplies water to some five million Syrians in the capital and surrounding areas, a fifth of the country’s population.
At Christmas the LCF poisoned springs, forcing the government to bring in water by tankers from elsewhere.
On Sunday some 1,300 civilians were evacuated from towns in the valley in a deal between the army and the al-Qaida-affiliated fighters.
Further south, in Quneitra province close to Israel, the LCF blew up three electricity pylons yesterday, causing power cuts, the official Sana news agency said.
On New Year’s Eve the UN security council unanimously passed a Russian resolution backing the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey over Christmas, which excludes al-Qaida groups and Isis.
However, fighting continued in the eastern Damascus suburbs on Sunday between the army and Saudi-backed sectarian factions.
The Army of Islam and the Syria Legion, a coalition of groups that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, are both reportedly parties to the truce.