Syria Ceasefire Continues despite Initial Instances of Violence: Reports

Syria Ceasefire Continues despite Initial Instances of Violence: Reports
Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:18:23

The all-Syria ceasefire, brokered by Russia and Turkey, is holding across the country despite initial instances of violence, a monitoring group and militant sources say.

The truce took effect at midnight on Friday. It was violated immediately after initiation, but calm prevailed afterwards, said the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group reported isolated incidents of gunfire and clashes in the northwest.

Reuters also cited a member of the Jaish al-Nasr militant group as saying that violence has “stopped, adding, “Until now the situation is good.”

The Syrian government has not made any comments on the situation of the ceasefire so far.

Syrian children gather around a fire as the Syrian government starts to clean up areas formerly held by militants in the northern city of Aleppo, December 27, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The ceasefire agreement excludes the most brutal of terror outfits operating in Syria, namely Daesh (ISIS / ISIL) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

The truce was mediated by Moscow and Ankara, which were respectively representing the Syrian government and the anti-Damascus militants.

The two sides had successfully brokered a similar accord earlier this month, which ended years of fighting in Aleppo and facilitated the evacuation of civilians and armed men from the northwestern Syrian city.

Later in the day, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem hailed the ceasefire deal as a “real opportunity” for a political settlement of the deadly crisis, which has been plaguing his country since early 2011.

“It is the duty of the factions (militant groups) who have signed it to distance themselves from, and declare that they are not linked to the Nusra Front or Daesh,” he said in an interview broadcast live on state TV.

Turkey, a True Partner?

He, meanwhile, said that the Syrian government believes in Russia as a guarantor of the ceasefire agreement, but mistrusts the Turkish role.

“We believe in Russian guarantees in ceasefire agreement, because Russia is our ally in fighting terrorism, but we do not trust Turkey,” Muallem said.
Ankara mobilized troops to Syria in August, in a move strongly contested by Damascus.

The invasion, which is said to be mainly aimed at Daesh, has seen the troops lending firepower support to Turkey-backed militants fighting the Syrian government.

This is while Ankara has long been viewed as a transit route for Takfiri militants, including Daesh terrorists, into neighboring Syria.

Also through the invasion, Turkey seeks to push back the Kurdish militias, who have played an instrumental role in flushing Daesh out of Syrian towns and cities.

Ankara associates Syrian Kurdish militants with those of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been fighting for an independent Kurdish entity inside Turkey for decades.

‘Iran, Syria Side by Side’

Muallem further said he had been contacted earlier by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had confirmed to him that “Iran is standing by Syria’s side.”

“Iran is part of the ceasefire agreement, and we are on the same front,” he added.

Iran, an ally of the Syrian government in the face of the militancy, has been lending successful military advisory support to Syria’s counterterrorism struggles.

The truce agreement was facilitated after tripartite talks among Iranian, Russian, and Turkish top diplomats in Moscow.

S/SH 11

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