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Syria ceasefire: ‘No civilian deaths on first day’

2016-09-13 15:32:30
Syria ceasefire: ‘No civilian deaths on first day’ Desk:

The cessation of hostilities in Syria that came into effect at sunset on Monday is holding well into its first day, reports suggest.

UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had recorded no civilian deaths in the first 15 hours of the truce.

Residents in the embattled northern city of Aleppo reported calm.

Separately, Israel denied on Monday that Syria had shot down one of its jets over the Syrian Golan Heights.

Syrian state TV reported the country's military had downed an Israeli warplane and drone after the aircraft attacked a Syrian army position in the Quneitra region.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it had attacked Syrian positions after a mortar bomb struck the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights, but that two Syrian surface-to-air missiles missed its aircraft.

‘Sporadic attacks’

The truce in Syria was reportedly broken by sporadic attacks carried out by both government forces and rebels after the ceasefire had come into effect.

The Syrian Observatory said they had seen reports of aerial bombardment of some villages in Hama province, and shelling near Damascus.

The Syrian army has said the truce will be applied throughout Syria for seven days, but that it reserves the right to respond decisively to any violation by armed groups.

A number of rebel factions have given a guarded welcome to the deal but expressed reservations about its implementation.

The deal, described on Friday by US Secretary of State John Kerry as the "last chance to save a united Syria", was struck on Friday in Geneva after months of talks between Russia and the US. It requires both sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian groups are hoping to make aid deliveries to the worst-hit areas, especially the war-torn city of Aleppo.

If the truce holds for seven days, the US and Russia will carry out co-ordinated air strikes on militant groups - including so-called Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (known until recently as the Nusra Front).

The opposition Free Syrian Army group has said that while it will "co-operate positively" with the ceasefire, it was concerned it would benefit the government.

Another major rebel group, the hardline Islamist Ahrar al-Sham, initially rejected the deal but later appeared to have softened its stance.

Opposition sources quoted by Reuters said a forthcoming statement supporting the cessation "with harsh reservations" would be backed by "the largest groups", including Ahrar al-Sham.

Speaking earlier, President Bashar al-Assad welcomed the deal but said the Syrian state was still "determined to recover every area from the terrorists, and to rebuild".

The conflict in Syria, which began with an uprising against Mr Assad, has raged for five years and claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people.

More than 4.8 million have fled abroad, and an estimated 6.5 million others have been displaced within the country, the UN says.

Source: BBC

Ends/ 13, 2016

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