Syria ceasefire holds despite sporadic clashes


Syrian boy carries a bag while walking across a destroyed street in Aleppo. File photo: Noor

A nationwide ceasefire in Syria, brokered by Russia and Turkey which back opposing sides in the conflict, got off to a shaky start after midnight on Friday, in the latest attempt to end nearly six years of bloodshed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said an agreement has been reached on a Syria ceasefire, with Russia and Turkey to act as guarantors.

According to the agreement, Russia is expected to serve as guarantor of regimes compliance, while Turkey would guarantee commitment by rebel groups.

However, local sources reported clashes between opposition groups and government forces along the provincial boundary between Idlib and Hama. Also, sporadic clashes took place in southern Syria hours after the truce was announced.

In the meantime, the United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura expressed hope that the ceasefire would save civilian lives, enable the delivery of aid and lead to productive peace talks between parties to conflict.

According to reports, the Syrian ceasefire was the first major international diplomatic initiative in the Middle East in decades not to involve the United States. Moscow’s air campaign since September last year has turned the civil war in Assad’s favor, and the last rebels left Aleppo for areas that are still under rebel control in the province of Idlib. Before talks can take place, the ceasefire will have to hold.


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