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US-Russian ceasefire deal 'holding' in southwest Syria


Syria

US-Russian ceasefire deal 'holding' in southwest Syria

A ceasefire in southwest Syria held firm on Sunday, according to a war monitor and rebels.

A UK-based Syrian observer and several rebel groups in the area said calm was prevailing.

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached the “de-escalation agreement” after the first meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump last week.

The streets of Deraa were calm on Sunday afternoon, where witnesses reported no warplanes or significant fighting. The area near the border with Jordan was reportedly the site of some of the heaviest army bombing in recent weeks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group based in Britain, said “calm was prevailing”, with no airstrikes or clashes since the truce began at noon on Sunday.

“Relatively calm” was also the description of a spokesman for the Alwiyat al-Furqan rebel faction in the Quneitra area. The Southern Front coalition of Western-backed rebels said a “cautious calm” was continuing into the evening.

But reactions to the truce deal were mixed among residents in the southwestern border city, where government forces and their allies are trying to crush remaining pockets of resistance as they seek to capture a strategic crossing with Jordan.

There was optimism from one medic. “When we heard the announcement of the tripartite deal between the Americans, Russians and Jordanians… honestly we hoped this fulfils the goals which we called for,” said Deraa field hospital doctor Ziad Mahamid.

But commanders of rebel groups are more sceptical, saying the ceasefire was deceiving and called it a partial solution for Syria.

“We don’t want a partial solution to the Syrian problem. We want a comprehensive solution for our families who were forcibly displaced from their country, and whose homes, villages and infrastructure were destroyed,” said rebel group commander Abu Odai Almadani.

The truce – covering the provinces of Deraa, Quneitra and Suweida – was announced after the Russian and US presidents met at the G20 summit in Hamburg, in what appeared to mark a diplomatic achievement for Donald Trump’s administration in its first peace-making effort in the war.


The Syrian government’s silence since the ceasefire was announced has been seen as a sign of tacit approval.

Meanwhile, delegates have arrived in Geneva for the latest round of UN-sponsored peace talks to begin on Monday. A spokesman for the opposition delegation said the deal showed a “serious international effort to bring peace”.

A United Nations envoy said earlier the deal was a “positive development”.

Moscow and Washington have stressed that monitoring will be important. A senior US State Department official said crucial aspects of the agreement, including who would monitor its enforcement, had to be decided in further discussions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a monitoring centre was being established in the Jordanian capital.

Several ceasefires have collapsed since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.