NGO Monitor Says U.S.-Russia Ceasefire in Syria Largely Holding – For Now

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Friday prompted the United States, Russia, and Jordan to broker a ceasefire in Syria that has largely held, according to a group that uses ground sources to monitor the conflict.

After an estimated two-and-a-half hour meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit Friday, the parties announced the truce, marking the fifth attempt to quell the violence in war-devastated Syria since early last year.

The Russian-American-Jordanian truce, which went into effect on Sunday at 12 PM local time, covers three provinces in southwestern Syria that border Jordan —Al-Suwaidaa, Daraa, and al-Quneitra.

According to the monitor group known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the covered areas were relatively calm during the first twelve hours of the ceasefire.

“The SOHR has observed so far that calm is prevailing the provinces of southern Syria and no violations of the truce have been reported so far although the few moments that preceded its implementation witnessed the firing of several shells by the regime forces on faction-controlled areas in Daraa but no casualties have been reported so far,” reports the Monitor.

Citing the Observatory, Al Jazeera reports that except for some “sporadic activity,” the southwestern provinces “remained mostly quiet nearly 24 hours” after the brokered truce took effect Sunday.

“There are minor violations that do not affect the ceasefire,” declared Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of SOHR. “In general, there is quiet in the three provinces.”

“Russian military police, together with the US and Jordan, will ensure security around the de-escalation zone, officials said,” reports the Independent. “The truce will be monitored through satellite and drone images as well as observers on the ground, according to a Jordanian official.”

The truce is reportedly expected to be the forerunner to greater cooperation between the United States and Russia over Syria.

“This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” proclaimed Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

The United States and Russia “promised to ensure that all groups there comply with the ceasefire” and “provide humanitarian access,” he added.

Forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad fired some shells and clashed with rebels in Daraa province.

The Observatory also highlighted clashes in al-Quneitra, another province covered by the truce, noting there were no casualties in any of the incidents.

According to the Observatory, the ceasefire agreement “stipulates the departure of all those unwilling to participate in the agreement, the full withdrawal of the regime’s allied militiamen – of non-Syrian nationalities, preparation of the infrastructure necessary for the return of refugees from Jordan successively, holding municipal elections and granting municipalities broad powers, and finally the delivery of humanitarian aid to the areas that abide by the ceasefire.”

All previous attempts at cessation of hostilities have failed to halt the fighting for very long.

“Sunday’s ceasefire went into effect just ahead of new peace talks in Geneva, which begin later Monday,” notes Al Jazeera.

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