Syria ceasefire brokered by US, Russia goes into effect

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A man is overcome with grief in front of a destroyed mosque in Taftanaz where local residents gathered those killed after pro-Assad forces attacked the area. File photo

A ceasefire has come into force in southwest Syria after a deal was brokered by the US, Russia and Jordan.

The truce began at midday (09:00 GMT) on Sunday, in the provinces of Deraa, Suweida and Quneitra in the southwest, along the Jordanian border.

A monitoring group said there have been no air strikes or clashes since the ceasefire started. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “calm was prevailing” in the area.

A rebel official in Deraa city, speaking to Reuters news agency, also said there had been no significant fighting.

Similar agreements have been brokered in Syria in the past with the aim of getting the country’s peace process back on track following a prolonged civil war that began in 2011. All have failed to halt the fighting for very long.

But in a statement issued late on Saturday, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster  said the US was “encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement”.

“The United States remains committed to defeating ISIS [ISIL], helping to end the conflict in Syria, reducing suffering, and enabling people to return to their homes,” he added. “This agreement is an important step toward these common goals.”

Syrian government forces had already announced a halt to combat operations in the three provinces.

The deal is separate to the four so-called de-escalation zones, which are being negotiated by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Those talks broke down in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana last week, over the policing and precise borders of the areas.

Syrian rivals are to come together for a seventh time in Geneva in the coming days.

Diplomats from Russia, Iran, Turkey and the US were participating in the Astana talks along with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Agencies 

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