Syria ceasefire comes into effect under US-Russia deal
Sept.13, Damascus: A nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by the United States and Russia began at sundown on Monday, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but there are concerns about whether it will hold.
Several hours into the ceasefire, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet.
"Calm is prevailing," said SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman, adding, however, that there had been light shelling by both rebel groups and government forces in the country's southwest.
The deal, agreed to on Friday by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, aims at putting an end to fighting and moving towards a political transition after more than five years of war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups fighting to depose him.
The truce does not apply to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or 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 Syrian government, as well as Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah armed group, two of its strongest allies, have all agreed to the deal, but rebel groups expressed serious concerns.
Hours after the nationwide truce went into effect, more than a dozen rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alliance, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, put out a statement that harshly criticised the agreement, calling it "unjust", but stopped short of fully rejecting it.
The statement came a day after Ahrar al-Sham had denounced the deal in a video address.
At a State Department press conference two hours after the ceasefire came into effect, Kerry said there had been reports of violations "here and there", but urged all parties to adhere to the truce deal, saying it may be the last "opportunity" to obtain peace in a united Syria.
The Oslo Times International News Network