Syria ceasefire holds despite regime bombing

Syria ceasefire holds despite regime bombing
A Russian-Turkish brokered deal, which came into place on Thursday night is largely holding despite some bombing and skirmishes.
2 min read
30 December, 2016
A pro-regime fighter stands in a formerly rebel-held district of east Aleppo [AFP]
A fragile ceasefire in Syria appeared to be largely holding on Friday with only isolated violations of the Russia-Turkey brokered deal.

Despite some bombings and fighting there were no recorded deaths in the first nine hours of the agreement which came into place at 10pm local time on Thursday.

While no fatalities were recorded, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported that incidents of regime bombardment and on the ground fighting between continued.

On Friday, Syrian regime aircraft were reported to have carried out several raids targeting the city of Halfaya in northern Hama, with clashes also said to have taken place in other localities in the province, including Bathish.

Elsewhere in the country, clashes were reported in localities in the suburbs of Damascus, and in Daraa, with further regime bombardment taking place in northern Latakia, and Jisr al-Shighour, a rebel-stronghold in Idlib, in north-west Syria.

The ceasefire agreement does not apply to the Islamic State group or Fatah al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliate. 

Russian aircraft notably began operations in al-Bab, an Islamic State group-held town in Aleppo province, under siege by Turkish and Syrian fighters.

The US has backed the ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey as a "positive development".

Meanwhile reports have emerged of an emerging plan proposed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, to divide the country along a federalist structure into three zones of influence overseen by the Assad regime. 

Such a deal remains in its infancy and would require approval from both the Syrian regime and rebel groups, in addition to external backers, such as the Gulf states who will likely possess objections. 

Negotiations between the Syrian regime and opposition representatives are scheduled to begin in mid-January in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, a close Russian ally.

On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that negotiations towards a ceasefire in Syria had proved successful due to "my precious friend Putin".

This was a reference to the Russian president - a far cry from relations between the two soured after Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft in November 2015.

Speaking on Thursday, Erdogan also said that the upcoming meeting in Astana was not meant to sideline UN-led peace talks in Geneva stating on the contrary that they would be "complementary and supportive".

Two previous ceasefires for Syria this year have failed to hold.