Syria ceasefire takes effect with Assad emboldened, opposition wary

Reuters reports: A nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by the United States and Russia went into effect on Monday evening, the second attempt this year by Washington and Moscow to halt the five-year-old civil war.

The Syrian army announced the truce at 7 p.m. (11.00 a.m. ET), the moment it took effect, saying the seven-day “regime of calm” would be applied across Syria. It reserved the right to respond with all forms of firepower to any violation by “armed groups”.

Rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad issued a joint statement listing deep reservations with the agreement they described as unjust, echoing concerns outlined in a letter to the United States on Sunday. While the statement did not explicitly back the ceasefire, rebel sources said the groups were abiding by it.

“Regarding a truce, a ceasefire, the delivery of aid, this is a moral question and there is no debate around this, we absolutely welcome this, but there are other articles around which there are reservations,” Zakaria Malahifji of an Aleppo-based rebel faction told Reuters.

Combatant sources on both sides said calm prevailed in the first hours of the ceasefire but reported violations increased later in the night. [Continue reading…]

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