The Assad regime’s military has unilaterally declared a 72-hour truce covering whole Syria, state media reported.
Assad regime’s military high command said in a statement that “a regime of calm will be implemented across all territory of the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of 72 hours from 1 a.m. on July 6 until 2400 on July 8, 2016”.
The truce was the first to be declared across the whole country since one brokered by foreign powers in February to facilitate talks to end the five-year-old civil war. That truce has mostly unraveled, and the escalating violence caused talks to break down after Assad regime – backed by the Russians- launched a wide offensive in Aleppo and other areas.
Wednesday’s ceasefire covers the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday celebrated by Muslims to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. But opposition groups and a monitoring organization said little had actually changed on the ground.
“We, the armed revolutionary groups in Syria, welcome any effort towards a ceasefire for the happy Eid al-Fitr period. We declare we will abide by it so long as the other side does the same,” an FSA statement said.
It said the rebel bloc welcomed international efforts that had yielded the announcement from the Assad regime, but attacks had not ceased as a result, from both sides.
Assad regime breaches the truce
Assad regime has violated a three-day ceasefire with air strikes and shelling in the country’s Aleppo province, according to the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
War planes dropped bombs on the northern Aleppo area on Wednesday, while Assad regime forces fired shells in the nearby town of Anadan. Syria
At least two children were killed by rebel forces who shot shells into the town of al-Zahra, the Observatory said.
In a statement posted online, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel coalition said it agreed to the Eid holiday ceasefire.
“Until now, (the regime) has not abided by what it has announced, in that it has launched a number of attacks in various areas today,” the statement said.
Jaish al-Islam spokesman Islam Alloush said: “The regime has made this announcement purely to escape international pressure. On the ground, I don’t think anything has changed.”
Jaish al-Islam said in a separate statement that, despite the announced truce, Assad regime and allied forces had attacked the town of Maydaa, in the Eastern Ghouta area east of Damascus. Maydaa has been held by Jaish al-Islam.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that Assad regime and allied forces had taken almost complete control of Maydaa and that fighting continued.
Syrian state media said the army and its allies had taken ground from “terrorists” in the area. The Assad regime describes all groups fighting against it as terrorists.
The Syrian crisis resulted in killing more than 450.000, according to UN estimates and forcing 8 million out of the country as refugees scattered around the world.