Damascus, September 13: United Sates and Russia on Monday called for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. U.S. and Russia sought seven straight days of relative calm to trigger a broader peace initiative and military cooperation. Several hours after the ceasefire call, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet.
The deal was agreed to on Friday by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The ceasefire aims to put an end to fighting and moving towards a political transition after more than five years of war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups fighting to depose him.
Several hours into the ceasefire, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet. The Syrian government, as well as Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah armed group, two of its strongest allies, have all agreed to the deal, but rebel groups expressed serious concerns.
However, the deal does not apply to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front that changed its name after cutting ties with al-Qaeda in July.
If the truce holds for seven days, the US and Russia will carry out co-ordinated air strikes on militant groups – including Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (known until recently as the Nusra Front).
The conflict in Syria, which began with an uprising against President Assad, has raged for five years and claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people. More than 4.8 million have fled abroad, and an estimated 6.5 million others have been displaced within the country.