The United States and Russia reached a ceasefire deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but airstrikes hours later on a busy market place that killed and injured dozens added to rebels’ doubts that any ceasefire could hold.
The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hardline Islamist groups.
But hours after the agreement, more than 100 people were reported killed in a series of bombing raids on rebel-held parts of Aleppo province in the north of the country, and in Idlib in the north-west.
The worst strikes were in Idlib city, the capital of the province of the same name, where they hit a market, killing 55 civilians.
Videos of footage on social media showed rescuers carrying the corpses of a charred child and other victims as other civil defense workers pulled mangled bodies from beneath rubble.
“A Russian fighter jet targeted a residential area and a market in Idlib.”
“The market was full of shoppers going to buy presents for their kids, they were all civilians,” said Salem Idlibi, a civil defense worker saying the market was unusually busy ahead of a major Muslim feast on Monday.
Idlib province has endured escalating strikes by Russian planes in recent months, according to international aid workers and residents, destroying scores of hospitals, bakeries and other infrastructure across rebel-held territory.
In Aleppo, at least 46 civilians, including nine children, were killed in a bombardment of opposition-held areas, an Al Jazeera correspondent in the city said.
The raids on Idlib and Aleppo were believed to have been carried out by Syrian army fighter jets, or those of its main ally Russia.
The Syrian rebels said they were planning a counter-offensive.
“The fighting is flaring on all the fronts of southern Aleppo,” rebel spokesman Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak said.
Razak, of the Nour al-Din al Zinki Brigades, part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which is backed by the West, said they were studying the peace deal but feared it merely gave the Syrian army a chance to gather forces and pour more Iranian-backed militias into Aleppo.
The surge in violence came hours after the US and Russia’s top diplomats announced the ceasefire agreement after 13 hours of talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.
The accord included a truce to start across Syria at sunset Monday, the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on all sides to respect the deal, which was finally reached after several failed attempts over recent weeks.
“This requires halting all attacks, including aerial bombardments, and any attempts to gain additional territory at the expense of the parties to the cessation. It requires unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to all of the besieged and hard-to-reach areas including Aleppo,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that despite continuing mistrust, the two sides had developed five documents that would enable coordination of the fight against terrorism and a revival of Syria’s failed truce.
Both sides agreed not to release the documents publicly.
“This all creates the necessary conditions for resumption of the political process, which has been stalling for a long time,” Lavrov said.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.
#Syria Airstrikes hit market in #Idlib city pic.twitter.com/o2mrLvotZc
— Mark (@markito0171) September 10, 2016
#Syria: pictures from the market of #Idlib today after it was struck by warplanes of the regimr pic.twitter.com/tNoexjzvhH
— Thomas van Linge (@arabthomness) September 10, 2016
Russian agreement after the US bombed the regime gave the markets in #Syria #Idlib @SyriaCivilDef #whitehelmets pic.twitter.com/1A0XwS2PIg
— Majd khalaf (@majdkhlafa19931) September 10, 2016
The teams @SyriaCivilDef are still working to bring out the trapped under the rubble, fire fighting in #Idlib pic.twitter.com/UZamANaIzl
— Majd khalaf (@majdkhlafa19931) September 10, 2016
Market day #idlib #Hell pic.twitter.com/BCidDeq3mN
— bonnie kipperman (@bonniekipperman) September 10, 2016
And #Syriaceasefire too late for 20 reportedly killed in Russia airstrike on #Idlib market place just now pic.twitter.com/ru6MiTz5ah
— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) September 10, 2016
#Syria body part/ child's arm after #Russia'n airstrike on Kafr Naha in western #Aleppohttps://t.co/BrT37LaQoC pic.twitter.com/TD0UBGaNA5
— Mark (@markito0171) September 11, 2016
Civilian casualties caused by air strikes to aircraft for the government of #Assad in #Aleppo . – (AMC) pic.twitter.com/lhr2kCE7Nt
— Zuid Al-Ani (@ZuidAlani) September 11, 2016
#Aleppo: #Russia|n airstrikes killed several children in #Kafr_Naha town in Western #Aleppo. ? #Genocide pic.twitter.com/jyF6F2IuGt
— WorldOnAlert (@worldonalert) September 11, 2016