A truce in Syria brokered by Russia and the United States is set to begin at sundown after a weekend of Assad regime’s air raids killed dozens of civilians while there are concerns about whether it will hold.
The agreement, made by US and Russia who 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.
The Free Syrian Army group, a leading rebel alliance, said it would observe it from sundown on Monday as agreed, but with major reservations.
“The decision is taken,” the opposition source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “In the next few hours there will be a statement where we state that, but there will be a lot of harsh reservations and observations regarding the whole package. But as a final takeaway, we do agree.”
The alliance wrote to Washington on Sunday, saying that while it would “cooperate positively” with the ceasefire, it was concerned that it would benefit the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Another leading rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, which is seen as a “terrorist group” by Russia, rejected the deal, saying it would strengthen Assad’s government.
State news agency SANA reported on Saturday that Assad’s government had “approved the agreement” for a truce.
Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah, which has intervened militarily in the war on behalf of Assad, announced its support.
Key Assad and Hezbollah backer Iran also welcomed the deal, though Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi cautioned that its success would rely on creating “a comprehensive monitoring mechanism, in particular the control of borders in order to stop the dispatch of fresh terrorists” to Syria.
The deal does not include Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly an al-Qaeda affiliate known as al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Assad regime’s attacks on civilians continue
Fighting raged on several key frontlines on the first day of the Muslim Festival of Eid al-Adha, Monday, including Aleppo and the southern province of Quneitra.
The commander of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) group in northern Syria said government warplanes had been bombing “like crazy” on Monday, hitting one of his bases.
“They are using their planes to hit everywhere – Aleppo, Idlib, the rural areas,” Hassan Haj Ali, commander of the Suqour al-Jabal group, told Reuters.
Assad regime conducted multiple airstrikes with cluster bombs on Douma killing three civilians and gravely injuring at least 30 others, including 5 amputation cases
Deir Fool, Talbiseh and Ezz al-Deen in Homs northern countryside were also attacked by barrel bombs. Significant damage was seen in many buildings. No news of casualties was reported.
Similar air attacks with cluster bombs were conducted today by Assad regime forces near the local stadium and the mosque of Shuaib in Idlib and the on the neighborhood of al-Jazmati in Aleppo.
On Saturday, 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.
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 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.