Ceasefire in Syria brings some calm
Crucial days ahead for war-torn country as shaky truce holds... for now
The ceasefire in Syria appeared to be holding last night despite sporadic clashes and minor violations.
Observers said most of the country was calm amid the latest attempt by the United States and Russia to bring some quiet in the country’s devastating civil war, now in its sixth year.
The deal, hammered out by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov last week in Geneva, officially came into effect at sunset on Monday.
The Syrian army announced at the time that it would abide by the By 7DAYS News Team ceasefire until midnight on Sunday, while maintaining its right to defend itself against any violations.
It is the second attempt this year to try to reduce violence in war-torn Syria, where the five-and-a-half-year conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced half the country’s population of 11 million.
“For the moment, calm is prevailing in all areas,” said Ahmad Al Masalmeh, an opposition activist in the southern province of Daraa – where Syria’s crisis began in 2011.
The first week of this truce will be crucial. During that time, all fighting between Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s forces and the rebels is to stop. However, Al Assad’s forces can continue airstrikes against ISIS.
If calm holds for seven days, the US and Russia would then set up a new centre that would jointly develop strategies to combat the Jabhat Fatah Al Sham group, formerly Al Nusra Front.
Under the truce, Al Assad’s forces are no longer supposed to bomb Syria’s opposition. The Syrian air force has been dropping barrel bombs on civilian areas under the pretext of targeting militants. For the moment, “calm is prevailing in all areas”, said Ahmad Al Masalmeh, an opposition activist in the southern province of Daraa – where Syria’s crisis began in 2011. Syrian state news agency SANA said rebels fired three shells at the government-held neighbourhood of Mallah in Aleppo. It also reported shelling near the Castello road, northwest of the city, and the Ramouseh area in the south – both main arteries leading to Aleppo. Rami Abdurrahman, from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there were minor truce violations in central Hama province. Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, reported some shelling in Aleppo and the southern region of Quneitra, while state media said there were “breaches” by rebels in Aleppo. The deal’s architects hope the ceasefire will pave the way for a period of restraint that can serve as the foundation for peace talks.