Syria cease-fire clings, sur­vives de­spite clashes

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE | WORLD - By Erin Cun­ning­ham

IS­TAN­BUL — Clashes erupted Fri­day be­tween Syr­ian rebels and govern­ment forces out­side Da­m­as­cus, state me­dia and ac­tivists said, punc­tur­ing days of calm un­der a cease­fire bro­kered by Rus­sia and the United States.

The bat­tles did not ap­pear to threaten the truce or spark wider un­rest, al­though the fight­ing be­tween Syr­ian troops and anti-govern­ment rebels in the Da­m­as­cus sub­urb of Jo­bar un­der­scored the frag­ile hold of the cease­fire since it took ef­fect Mon­day.

Of pri­mary con­cern to U.S. and United Na­tions of­fi­cials was the fail­ure of aid agen­cies, for the fourth day in a row, to reach be­sieged pop­u­la­tions in the city of Aleppo and other ar­eas, in­clud­ing em­bat­tled sites near Da­m­as­cus.

“The largest im­ped­i­ment is (Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar) As­sad not giv­ing the green­light to trucks com­ing across the bor­der” to reach Aleppo, an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cial said the Syr­i­ans were claim­ing that govern­ment of­fices were “closed” and un­able to is­sue the re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion be­cause of the Mus­lim hol­i­day Eid al-Adha.

Un­der the cease-fire deal, Rus­sia is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing Syr­ian com­pli­ance with its terms.

“What we think is go­ing on is that the Rus­sians don’t ap­pear to have the lever­age on As­sad that they said they have,” said the of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of ano- nymity.

“Un­til this aid comes through, I think it’s hard to see” im­ple­men­ta­tion of other parts of the agree­ment.

The vi­o­lence near Da­m­as­cus was the fiercest re­ported this week.

The state-run Syr­ian Arab News Agency said mil­i­tants at­tempted to launch raids on mil­i­tary check­points near the cap­i­tal.

The army re­sponded with a coun­terof­fen­sive, the agency said.

YOUSSEF KAR­WASHAN/GETTY-AFP

Aid agen­cies have failed to reach be­sieged pop­u­la­tions in the city of Aleppo, plus other Syr­ian sites, hold­ing up other key pro­vi­sions in the cease-fire’s im­ple­men­ta­tion.

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