Hezbollah denied Russian observers entry to rebel-held Wadi Barada, a besieged Damascene enclave which supplies water to the capital, for the second day running on Friday, local activists and media outlets claimed.
Lebanese news site al-Mayadeen reported on Friday evening that a ceasefire had been agreed for Wadi Barada, and that a Russian delegation had been allowed to enter the area - but local activists immediately denied the claim, saying no Russian troops were on the ground and a truce had not been agreed.
Elders from the besieged area had invited the Russians to assess damage to water infrastructure and monitor ceasefire violations committed by pro-government forces, it was previously reported.
The alleged rebuff to Russia was corroborated by two local sources.
Osama Abu Zeid, the official spokesperson for the opposition factions taking part in the ceasefire negotiations, said on Twitter: “A Hezbollah checkpoint in Deir Qanun denied for the second time Russian observers entry to Wadi Barada.
Fuad Abo Hatab, a lawyer living in Wadi Barada, said on his Facebook page: “Today again Hezbollah members denied a delegation compromised of 4 Russian officers, the leader of (FSA) Division 13, and a number of notable figures from Wadi Barada from entering Wadi through al-Mosalbeya checkpoint in Deir Qanun.
“Russia’s prestige is being dragged through the dirt.”
Fuad Abo Harab’s Facebook post
The reports come as tensions between Tehran and Moscow begin to come to the surface.
Iran-backed militias previously harassed civilians fleeing east Aleppo under a Moscow-backed local truce, preferring instead to finish off the rebels entirely.
Hezbollah’s blocking of Russian observers drew the attention of Arabic social media users, who questioned whether the tail was now wagging the dog.
This would prove to be a double-blow to Russia. Moscow's international deal to strip Assad of his chemical weapons stockpile is considered one of its chief diplomatic victories in recent years in response to a lethal gas attack in Damascus in 2013.