The much-heralded “cessation of hostilities” in Syria does not seem to be holding up very well, as the Syrian opposition claims at least 15 violations so far.
Despite the ceasefire, bombs continued falling around the contested city of Aleppo. Several sources claimed these were Russian bombing missions in support of Syrian government troops, while Turkish media reported Turkey was still firing artillery barrages across the border, although the targets are now said to be the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) militants rather than Kurdish positions.
ISIS militants were also reportedly hit by airstrikes from U.S.-led coalition forces after launching an assault on the Kurdish-held town of Tal Abyad, along the Syrian-Turkish border. Reuters relayed a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that said at least 45 ISIS militants and 20 Kurdish militia were killed during the fighting. The ceasefire agreement does not include the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.
During a TV interview on Monday, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed doubt that there was an “overall cease-fire in the country” and said that “attacks there are, unfortunately, continuing from position to position.”
The UK Guardian reports that France has called a meeting of the International Syria Support Group in Geneva to examine allegations of ceasefire violation against Syrian and Russian forces, based on complaints from rebel factions.
Russia, in turn, accused the rebels of perpetrating at least nine ceasefire violations, including attacks near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
CNN reported on Monday that residents of rebel-held Aleppo regard the ceasefire as a “trick,” a “betrayal of those who have given their lives in the uprising.”
“The people living in rebel territory don’t trust the Assad regime and see this cessation of hostilities as a trick designed so that the regime can take more territory,” said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, one of the few Western journalists on the ground in Aleppo.
She described protests with signs denouncing the ceasefire as a “betrayal of our martyrs” and noted the local imam has been exhorting his followers to keep fighting.
“I think what this really highlights (is) the fundamental disconnect that exists between the people who are fighting and dying here on the ground and the people who are brokering deals overseas,” said Ward.
Despite this, the BBC reported U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has declared the ceasefire has held “by and large,” allowing the United Nations to step up deliveries of food, water, and medicine to war-torn areas.