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Syrian govt. reaches deal to fix damaged Damascus water source

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People wait to fill plastic containers with water provided by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Damascus, Syria, January 10, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Syrian government has reached a deal with foreign-backed militants in Wadi Barada area near Damascus for technicians to enter a damaged spring facility that supplies water to the capital.

The governor of Damascus Countryside made the announcement on Wednesday.

Initial local media reports said hundreds of Takfiri militants would lay down arms and move out of the area in the coming hours.

The Syrian government will also secure safe passage for militants to quit the neighborhood and head toward the northwestern province of Idlib.

Millions of people have been without water for weeks after fighting damaged key infrastructure in Wadi Barada, which is the main water source for the Syrian capital.

Damascus says the al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, known previously as al-Nusra Front, is present in Wadi Barada.

Syrians fill plastic containers with water provided by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in the capital, Damascus, January 10, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday, "The role of the Syrian army is to liberate that area in order to prevent those terrorists from using that water in order to suffocate the capital."

The head of the UN-backed humanitarian taskforce for Syria, Jan Egeland, told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva on January 5 that 5.5 million of Damascus residents had been scrambling for clean water for nearly two weeks after supplies from the main source were disrupted in the wake of contamination due to militant sabotage.

Water supplies from the militant-held area of Wadi Barada have been severed since December 22, when Syrian army soldiers and fighters from popular defense groups launched a major offensive to recapture it after terrorists refused to surrender and leave the mountainous area near the Lebanese border.

Takfiri militants earlier contaminated Damascus's drinking water supply with diesel. The water authority had to cut supply to Damascus and resort to using water reserves after militants polluted Ain al-Fijah spring.

The Barada River and Ain al-Fijah spring reportedly supply 70 percent of the water for Damascus and its environs.

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