Syria rebels say ceasefire ‘void’ if government violations persist
Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory says the truce is still largely holding
A child in one of the alleys of the al-Kallasseh area in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, on Friday captured by rebel forces in 2012, was lately cleared in accordance with an agreement with the Syrian government that gave them a safe exit to the southern part of Aleppo or to Idlib province. Photograph: EPA
Syrians holding posters reading, ‘we want peace.. we love peace’ during a vigil at the Ummayyad Square in Damascus, in Syria, on Friday. Photograph: EPA
Inhabitants of the al-Kallasseh area in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo on Friday. Photograph: EPA
Rubble is seen in the al-Kallasseh area in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo on Friday. Photograph: EPA
Russia, which supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has urged the United Nations to give its blessing to the fragile ceasefire, the third truce this year seeking to end nearly six years of war in Syria.
Clashes and air strikes have persisted in some areas since the ceasefire began on Friday, though the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said on Saturday the truce was still largely holding.
“Continued violations by the regime and bombardment and attempts to attack areas under the control of the revolutionary factions will make the agreement null and void,” a statement signed by a number of rebel groups said.
The statement said government forces and their allies including Lebanese Hezbollah had been trying to press advances, particularly in an area northwest of Damascus in the rebel-held Wadi Barada valley.
The Observatory, which is based in Britain, said government forces and the rebels had clashed on Saturday in Wadi Barada.
Rebels say the army is seeking to recapture the area, where a major spring provides most of Damascus’s water supplies. Several people were killed in violence there on Friday, the Observatory said.
Blasts from government shellfire were also heard in the southern provinces of Quneitra and Deraa, the Observatory said.
Each side blames the other for continued unrest. Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday rebels had violated the truce 12 times in 24 hours.
In their statement, the rebels said it appeared the government and the opposition had signed two different versions of the ceasefire deal, one of which was missing “a number of key and essential points that are non-negotiable”, but did not say what those were.
There has been confusion over which groups in the opposition are included in the ceasefire. Islamic State, which has made enemies of all sides in the conflict, is not included.
The Syrian army said on Thursday the militant group formerly known as the Nusra Front was not part of the truce. However, several rebel officials said the group, which has been renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, was also included in the ceasefire deal.