Syria: US and Russia agree to 48-hour truce extension
Sept.15, Damascus: The US and Russia have said that a cessation of hostilities in Syria is largely holding and it should be extended by 48 hours, as the UN urged all sides to guarantee the security of an aid convoy, currently held-up along the Turkish border, into Aleppo.
"There was agreement as a whole, despite sporadic reports of violence, the arrangement is holding and violence is significantly lower," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
"As part of the conversation they agreed to extend the cessation for another 48 hours."
Toner said US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had spoken by telephone earlier in the day and agreed it was worth extending the truce.
Under the deal, which was brokered by the US and Russia on Friday, Washington and Moscow are aiming for reduced violence over seven consecutive days, before they move to the next stage of coordinating military strikes against ISIL and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front that changed its name after cutting ties with al-Qaeda in July.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict through contacts on the ground, said no deaths from fighting had been reported in the first 48 hours of the truce.
"This recommitment will initially be for 48 hours, and, provided it holds, the US and Russia will discuss extensions, with the aim of achieving an indefinite extension to lower the violence," Toner said.
He added that Russia needed to use its influence over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to ensure that humanitarian aid was delivered to besieged communities under the agreement.
"We haven't seen the humanitarian access yet so we're still continuing to assess this, talking to the Russians,"Toner he said. "We're pressuring them to pressure the Assad regime."
The Oslo Times International News Network