Syrian ceasefire mostly holds on second day, monitor says

Under the truce all attacks are to stop except government attacks on jihadi groups

The much-anticipated Syrian ceasefire, which began at sunset on Monday local time, has many hoping it can be a turning point in the conflict. Video: REUTERS

 

A nationwide ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia is mostly holding across Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

Some air attacks and shelling were reported in the first hours of the truce on Monday evening, in areas including the north Hama countryside, East Ghouta and north of Aleppo, the monitoring body said.

But that appeared to die down and the Observatory said it had not recorded a single civilian death from fighting in the fifteen hours since the ceasefire came into effect at 7 pm (4pm Irish time) on Monday.

Syrian state media said armed groups had violated the truce in a number locations in Aleppo city on at least five occasions since the early hours of Tuesday. The latest reported violation was at 9.45am which was a mortar fired in southwest Aleppo.

The Observatory said pro-government forces during Tuesday had shelled near two villages in the south Aleppo countryside and had also shelled the Jobar neighbourhood on the outskirts of Damascus. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The Observatory also said rebels had opened fire on the outskirts of a town in the west Hama countryside.

The ceasefire marks the second attempt this year to halt Syria’s five-year-old civil war.

Doubts

There have been extensive doubts expressed among many entangled in the conflict that the ceasefire, timed to coincide with the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, will be respected.

Under the terms, if violence is significantly reduced for seven days, the United States and Russia will collaborate on new airstrikes against jihadi militants in Syria, and the Syrian air force will be barred from flying over insurgent-held areas.

The US supports an alliance of rebel groups and Russia supports president Bashar al-Assad. But both countries share an antipathy for Islamic State and Nusra Front fighters who have seized parts of Syria and made it a magnet for jihadis.

Under the ceasefire deal, during an initial period, all attacks are to stop except Syrian government attacks on those two jihadi groups. But the public does not know what the United States and Russia have defined as those groups’ territories.

An agreement on the ceasefire was reached late Friday in Geneva by Russian and US diplomats, who have been struggling to find a way to reduce violence in the increasingly complex conflict so that food and medicine can reach civilians. Nearly 100 people were reported killed in attacks on rebel-held areas around the country on Saturday and Sunday, according to tallies by medical workers, rescuers and monitoring groups.

Agencies