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Rebels deprive 3 mln Syrians of drinking water in Aleppo

Three million Syrians in the northwestern city of Aleppo have been deprived of drinking water for nine straight days as the rebels have cut off water supplies to the conflict-stricken city, Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"The city of Aleppo has been subject to a collective punishment and immoral siege by the armed terrorist groups that have cut off the water supplies, including the clean and drinkable ones, to three million people in the city due to their rejection of the presence of the armed terrorist groups and their crimes against the civilians," the ministry said in letters addressing the United Nations.

The radical groups, who are in control of two main water pumping stations in Aleppo, have managed to cut off drinking water to the government-controlled western part of the city, a move that has also rebounded against the rebel-held part of Aleppo, creating a shortage in the rebels' own strongholds.

"The terrorists have prevented the pumping of water through Suleiman al-Halabi station, which is the main source of drinking water in Aleppo, causing a water outage in the whole city for the ninth consecutive day, sending water to Quiq River and wasting it to prevent citizens from having clean water," the ministry said.

While emphasizing that the rebels' action has created a "big dilemma" for the people of Aleppo, the statement stressed that the Syrian government and competent authorities are exerting huge efforts to cover people's demands of water by all means and through "urgent solutions."

It said that the people of Aleppo were forced to seek their needs of water from rivers and other undrinkable water sources, " which poses a threat to the citizens' lives and warns of spreading epidemics among the residents."

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and economic hub, has emerged as a main battlefield in the country's three-year crisis since the rebels vowed to "liberate" Aleppo from the government forces in June 2012.

During the long-standing crisis, the rebels have repeatedly attacked the country's infrastructure, plunging large areas in complete power outages and cutting off water to many areas as well.

The three-year crisis started in mid-March 2011 when anti- government protesters took to the street calling for reforms, but rapidly evolved into a civil war which witnessed the formation of anti-government militias joined by radical jihadist movements. Reports estimated that more than 150,000 people have been killed so far.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 12May14]

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