Friday, May 16, 2014
Aleppo now almost two weeks without water
Syrian children collect buckets of stagnant water from the side of a road in a rebel-held area of Aleppo on May 12, 2014. (AFP Photo/Zein Al-Rifai)
Residents of Syria’s second city Aleppo have been without water for almost two weeks because Islamist fighters have cut supplies into rebel and regime-held areas. The water shortage started when the rebels, who control the two main pumping stations, tried to keep water flowing to their areas in east Aleppo, but stop it reaching the government-held west of the city. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front had cut water supplies from a pump distributing to both the rebel-held east and government-held west of Aleppo.
People in both halves of the divided city have been forced to rely on ancient wells and fountains. In west Aleppo the Red Crescent and government agencies have provided some water but say it is not safe to drink over an extended period. Some trucks used for taking away waste water from houses are now selling drinking water likely to be contaminated.
Once home to about 2.5 million residents and considered Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been divided between government and opposition control since shortly after fighting there began in mid-2012.
At least one million people have been displaced from the city since then by fighting and relentless regime aerial bombardments of rebel areas. Opposition forces also regularly shell regime-held parts of the city in the west.
Syrian government forces reappear in the center of Homs. (Reuters)
Meanwhile Syrian government forces have taken full control of the heart of Homs since Thursday 8 May after rebels in the Old City boarded buses and were transported to rebel-held territory to the north.The withdrawal is part of a deal struck between the government and opposition forces, reportedly mediated by the Iranian ambassador to Syria.UN sources in Homs told the BBC a final group of 360 fighters had left the city on seven buses. Their departure had reportedly been delayed after opposition fighters in northern Syrian prevented aid from reaching besieged pro-government villages.