According to pro-government news sources, air strikes began on Saturday after militants from the Fateh al-Sham group, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, refused to leave the area unarmed. Pro-revolution activists said government forces unleashed a barrage of ordnance on the village, including explosive barrels dropped from helicopters and at least 30 large missiles.
In Wadi Barada, activists said around 100,000 people were without running water or electricity, and were under attack from all directions. The offensive follows an escalating crisis over water supplies feeding into Damascus from an area that includes Wadi Barada.
On Friday, authorities cut water supplies into various Damascus neighbourhoods after accusing rebels of deliberately poisoning water resources. According to the state news agency, rebel groups attacked springs at Wadi Barada and Ain al-Fijeh, about 15km (9 miles) north-west of Damascus.
State media also reported that militants blew up the Barada water pipeline in the suburb of Kafr al-Zayt, which had only just been fixed after a similar attack.
A statement by the Damascus water authority said it had halted supplies after "terrorist attacks on all water resources feeding into Damascus and its surroundings". An estimated 1.5 million people live inside Damascus city, with another 3.5 million in its suburbs.
The war over water underscores the importance of maintaining control of vital resources in a country crippled by nearly six years of civil war. The escalation has affected civilians on both sides. On Monday, parts of Damascus were still without water, and civilians inside Wadi Barada described an increasingly harrowing assault on a town already worn down by years of war and shortages.
The Wadi Barada valley has been under siege since 2014 with food, water and electricity all in short supply.
Observers allege that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was employing similar tactics in Wadi Barada as he did in Aleppo.
Regime forces were shelling Wadi Barada and Ain al-Fijeh “to put pressure on Islamist rebel factions and Fateh al-Sham Front to accept a reconciliation deal”, warned the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Under such local reconciliation deals, rebels agree to leave a town or village in exchange for safe passage elsewhere, often after months of devastating siege or bombardment.
Activists caution that any reconciliation deal may include forced displacement and the repopulation of the historically Sunni area with residents more aligned to Assad’s vision of a post-war Syria.
In Aleppo, mass graves were found on Monday in the city’s formerly rebel-held eastern quarters.
The Russian defence ministry said its troops found the bodies of several dozen Syrians “who suffered atrocious torture and massacre”, including mutilation and gunshot wounds.
The Observatory confirmed that bodies had been found in east Aleppo's streets, but could not specify how they had been killed.
Across Syria, observers have recorded multiple instances of massacres and organised torture, perpetrated by the government, various opposition groups, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.