Syria says militants violating truce
The government in Syria has announced that militants hostile to Damascus have violated a ceasefire that took effect late Monday.
Syria’s official SANA news agency on Tuesday cited a “military source” as saying that militants violated the truce, which was brokered by Russia and the United States, in the city of Aleppo.
According to the source, militant snipers targeted residential buildings in an area in Aleppo and mortar shells were also fired into another area in the city.
More than a dozen militant groups operating against the government in Syria earlier issued a statement that was highly critical of the ceasefire agreement on Monday.
The deal was announced on Friday following intensive talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The seven-day-long regime of calm took effect at sundown on Monday.
Hours after it took force, a group of militant outfits, including the so-called Free Syrian Army and its affiliated groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, released a joint statement bashing the accord and calling it “unjust.”
Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam are two of the most brutal terrorist groups that have been operating in Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011. Until now, however, the US has been hampering a Russian bid to place Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham on the United Nations terror list.
While some reports have interpreted the statement as merely a strongly-worded tirade against the Syrian government and its allies, some media outlets have said it amounts to the rejection of the truce by the signatories to the statement.
In the text of the statement, the militant groups have not explicitly rejected the truce, however.
They said the ceasefire had to be accompanied by the establishment of a no-fly zone over conflict-stricken areas, claiming that Syrian and Russian aircraft would seize upon the chance to hit militant-held locations in the absence of such a ban.
They said they did not believe there was an international will to support the Syrian people and asserted they would fight the Syrian government and army to the end and would not give up their strategic positions in exchange for the entry of food supplies into under-siege areas.
According to the militant groups, the truce regime also lacks any mechanism holding the Syrian military accountable for potential violations.
Russia has been conducting an aerial campaign against militant positions in Syria since September 2015. The operations were launched on a request by Damascus, which has long had military accords with Moscow.