Syria Ceasefire In Effect

A Syrian boy rides a bicycle through a devastated part of the old city of Homs, Syria, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday afternoon on a draft resolution endorsing the "cessation of hostilities" in Syria that is set to start at midnight local time. The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, also urges the U.N. secretary-general to resume Syria peace talks "as soon as possible." (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The cessation of hostilities that went into effect at midnight local time appears to be holding in areas across Syria, despite a few reports of clashes between pro-regime and opposition groups.  The ceasefire is seen as the first major pause in fighting in the country in the five-year civil war.

The agreement, brokered by the United States and Russia and backed by the United Nations Security Council, involves forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel groups that are fighting his regime.  Two groups excluded from the agreement are the Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS), which the Syrian government and its Russian backers vowed to continue to fight. The United States and its international coalition are also fighting IS in Syria and in neighboring Iraq.

For the first time in several months, Russia has largely stopped its airstrikes, despite launching a barrage of airstrikes in the lead up to the ceasefire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, reported that it was largely calm in many parts of the country shortly after midnight.

“In Damascus and its countryside … for the first time in years, calm prevails,” Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said.

“In Latakia, calm, and at the Hmeimim air base there is no plane activity,” he said, in reference to the base where Russia maintains its warplanes.

Despite the calm, both sides claimed breaches of the agreement had occurred.

Rebel groups claimed they came under attack from government ground forces in northwestern Syria.

Syria state TV also reported that several shells had hit residential areas of Damascus.

If the ceasefire holds, the United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said that peace talks could resume on March 7 in order to find a more durable solution to the conflict that has killed over 250,000 people since 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garret Pustay
World News-Politics Contributor
World News-Politics Contributor at The Atlas Times.

Avid follower of international news, with a particular interest on the Middle East. A frequent commuter between New York and the Middle East.

Twitter: @garretpustay

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