Regime negotiates to end water cutoff

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Four days after rebels in the Wadi Barada region cut off water to Damascus, the regime released five detainees Monday in a first step towards meeting conditions for reopening the water supply, reported pro-opposition Syria Mubasher. Rebel-held Wadi Barada area is home to Ein al-Fijeh, a town 15 km northwest of Damascus that houses the main spring providing drinking water both to the capital, including the wealthy districts of Mezzeh and Maliki that count top regime officials and supporters among its population, and the rebel-controlled suburbs. Wadi Barada rebels issued an announcement Saturday declaring a water cutoff until the regime met several of their conditions, including “a total stop to bombing and sniping in all the villages of the area,” the release of all detainees from Wadi Barada and the entrance of food, medicine, fuel and building materials into the region. Negotiations between the regime and rebels are ongoing, the head of the Wadi Barada Media Center was quoted by pro-opposition outlet Ainab Baladi as saying Monday. A truce has been active since November of last year.