Syria truce is shaky but holding

Both sides blame other for actions that threaten cease-fire

- John Bacon

The second day of a Syria cease-fire agreement to allow humanitari­an aid into towns battered by five years of brutal civil war was wobbly but generally holding Sunday, both sides said.

The complicate­d agreement brokered by the United States and Russia was approved by Western-backed rebels and the Syrian government. It does not involve attacks on the Islamic State or al- Qaeda’s Syrian branch, the Nusra Front, and the United States and Russia have continued bombing those targets.

Otherwise, the “cessation of hostilitie­s,” as it is formally called, began early Saturday in Syria.

Both sides accused the other Sunday of violations that could destroy the fragile deal and hamper hopes for peace talks. Russian Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko said the cease-fire was generally observed, but he cited nine truce breaches.

Russia asked the United States to review attacks from Turkey in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad.

Syrian rebel leader Riad Hijab, who heads an umbrella group of rebel factions, claimed that Russian, Iranian and government forces had not stopped fighting. Hijab cited dozens of bombings and ground attacks and said it would be difficult to resume peace talks in Geneva next week if the violence is not curbed.

Hijab said it was “positive to see people getting relief … to be safe and free from fear,” BBC reported.

The U.S. State Department pleaded for patience on both sides. A State Department official told USA TODAY that the allegation­s are being treated seriously and urged all parties to practice restraint.

The official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivit­y of the issue, said the United States and the United Nations are working to defuse the violence as it arises.

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