Syria ceasefire comes into effect after fresh regime bombardment

Syria ceasefire comes into effect after fresh regime bombardment
Regime continued to pound rebel-held cities until 'minutes' before Monday's ceasefire came into effect.
3 min read
12 September, 2016
Residents of Aleppo buy sweets on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha [Anadolu]

Syria's army said a seven-day "calm" would be applied across Syria starting at 7 p.m. [1600 GMT] on Monday, after it had continued to wage airstrikes in northwestern Syria until the final moment before the ceasefire's enforcement.

"A syrian regime plane targeted homes and a market in the city of Maarta-masrin killing 11 civilians including children and women, and injuring ten others," media activist Jaber Abu Mohammed told The New Arab.

These latest deaths add to the scores killed over the weekend in pro-governemnt air raids that have spiked in frequency after the announcement of the ceasefire agreement in Geneva on Friday.

Moscow to 'monitor'

Moscow also announced the enactment of the truce, following incendiary statements made by Syria's embattled president Bashar al-Assad, who once again vowed to retake all of Syria. 

Russia re-affirmed that the Syrian government would be abiding by the truce, and that Moscow would be monitoring the cessation of hostilities with drones.

A senior official from the defence ministry, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, said that Moscow was weighing up a Syrian government request to be given equipment that would enable Damascus to monitor artillery fire in and around Aleppo.

Moscow also called on Syrian rebel groups to stop fighting with Kurdish units.

A shaky start

The latest regime airstrikes do not bode well for the US-Russia brokered ceasefire, which rebel groups had already criticised as being stacked in favour of the regime.

Ahrar al-Sham, one of Syria's biggest rebel groups, dismissed the deal in a statement released hours before the deal was enacted on Monday.

In pictures: 
Click here for Zouhir al-Shimale's photoessay

on East Aleppo's marketplace

"The people cannot accept half-solutions," Ali al-Omar, the group's leader said, shortly before the start of Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday.

"The Russian-American deal... will send all the sacrifices and gains of our people who have risen up into smoke. It will only serve to reinforce the regime and surround the revolution militarily."

Continued airstrikes

Following the start of the ceasefire, Moscow also said that it would be continuing its own airstrikes against  Islamic State group and the and Fateh al-Sham - formerly the al-Nusra Front. The rebel group has been accused by Moscow and Washington of still being aligned al-Qaeda. 

Russia's defence ministry said that a joint US-Russian coordination centre was being established to determine legitimate targets of strikes.

Prior to the ceasefire's enactment, Syria's political opposition had criticised this part of the deal as it would continue to endanger civilians.

"We agree in principle to a total ceasefire, however, the deal allows the US and Russia to carry out air raids with a pause from the regime, this means they think the only terrorism is Sunni terrorism," Syrian High Negotiations Committee [HNC] spokesman Riad Nassan Agha told The New Arab on Saturday.

"Lavrov and Kerry have omitted the thousands of terrorists from around the world fighting alongside the regime such as Hizballah, Harakat al-Nujaba and others. The deal has also failed to mention Iran's role."

The HNC spokesman added that the agreement will not protect civilians living in areas held by terrorists because there are currently no safe zones for them to evacuate to.