Syria ceasefire holding, US and Russia watching closely

Kerry, Lavrov to meet again about Syria political solution
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

A nationwide ceasefire brokered by the U.S. and Russia was mostly holding across Syria on Tuesday, while the world powers were observing it and working to deliver aids to the civilians.

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.

At least 14 violations were reported since the ceasefire took effect on Monday, but most parts of Syria remained relatively calm, the SOHR’s Rami Abdulrahman told Al Jazeera.

But there were no reports of deaths or injuries.

“No one has died from gunfire over the past 15 hours,” he said on Tuesday at 12pm Damascus local time (09:00 GMT). “This is so far the most successful ceasefire to take place in the country.”

Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, a senior Russian Defense Ministry officer, said in comments broadcast by state television that Moscow had sent artillery reconnaissance equipment to Aleppo to monitor and suppress violations.

He said Assad regime forces had halted all military action, except in areas where they were fighting Islamic State units and the Nusra Front, now renamed Jabhat Fatah al Sham.

Live footage broadcast by Russia’s Rossiya-24 channel, which showed Russian officers reporting back to Moscow via video link on the situation, suggested the truce was shaky.

At one point, a Russian officer relaying information on the state of the ceasefire and a Syrian officer standing next to him were shown running for shelter near the Castello road outside Aleppo after coming under intense fire.

Sergei Kapitsyn, the Russian officer, said two Syrian soldiers had been killed and one wounded near the Castello road overnight.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said in Washington that while it was “far too early to draw conclusions” about the success of the ceasefire, initial reports of the first two hours suggested “some reduction” in violence.

“I urge all the parties to support it because it may be the last chance that one has to save a united Syria,” he 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 ceasefire largely holding, no civilians death reports
Boys walk near a damaged building on the first day of Eid al-Adha celebrations in the rebel held Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh