Friday, December 15, 2017 | ePaper

Syria army declares 48-hour truce in southern city

  • Print


Smoke rises from buildings following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa

AFP, Damascus :
Syria's army on Saturday declared a 48-hour ceasefire in the southern city of Daraa, bringing a cautious calm after days of heavy fighting.
In a statement, the army's general command said the truce went into effect at noon local time "in support of local reconciliation efforts".
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, reported a cautious calm in the hours after the truce was announced.
Daraa is among the areas included in a plan for "de-escalation zones" agreed by regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey earlier this year.
But recent weeks have seen heavy clashes in Daraa city and the surrounding area, with civilians among those caught in fighting and bombardment.
Rebels control around 60 percent of Daraa city, and the province as a whole is one of the last remaining bastions of opposition forces in the country.
In Washington, the US State Department said "we welcome any initiative to reduce tensions and violence in southern Syria". It urged Damascus "to live up to its own stated committment during this ceasefire initiative".
"The opposition should similarly halt attacks to allow the ceasefire to endure, and hopefully be extended," the statement added.
There was no immediate official confirmation that the opposition agreed to the truce but the quiet in the aftermath of the army announcement suggested hostilities had halted on both sides.
Syria's government has pursued a series of so-called "national reconciliation" agreements with rebels in different parts of the country, including recently near the capital. Under the deals, rebels who surrender are generally offered safe passage to opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country.
The opposition criticises the deals as a "starve or surrender" tactic, saying they are forced into the agreements after heavy regime bombardment or siege.
But the government has touted the deals as the best way to end the six-year war, which has killed more than 320,000 people since it began in March 2011.
Vienna report adds:   The United Nations special mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, wants to start a fresh round of talks between Syrian factions on July 10, his office said on Saturday.
Since a resumption of negotiations last year, there have been multiple rounds brokered by the United Nations between representatives of Syrian rebels or the government of Bashar al-Assad, resulting in scant progress.
"(De Mistura) wishes to announce he will convene a seventh round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. The target date for arrival of invitees is July 9, with the round beginning on July 10," it said in an emailed statement.
"He intends to convene further rounds of talks in August and in September."
De Mistura said earlier this week such talks would depend on the progress made in setting up "de-escalation" zones in Syria, where over six years of conflict have killed more than 400,000 people.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran to discuss these zones would take place in the Kazakh city of Astana in early July.
Russia and Iran back Assad against rebels supported by Western powers, while both sides, aided by Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia, fight against ISIS terrorists.

More News For this Category

After UK setback, May wins Brexit cheer in Brussels

After UK setback, May wins Brexit cheer in Brussels

Reuters, Brussels :British Prime Minister Theresa May made clear her desire on Thursday to move Brexit talks forward to a discussion of a future trade relationship at a dinner

Red win in Nepal presents a Himalayan challenge for India

Red win in Nepal presents a Himalayan challenge for India

Agencies, New Delhi :Red Flags celebrate the communist win in Nepal, with the Left Alliance that had campaigned on a call to counter India's dominance set to form the

War must not be allowed on Korean peninsula: China

War must not be allowed on Korean peninsula: China

Reuters, Beijing :War must not be allowed to break out on the Korean peninsula and the issue must be resolved through talks, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday,

News In Brief

Russian parliament launches presidential campaignAP, Moscow Russian lawmakers on Friday set the presidential election for March 18, a move that sets in motion campaigning for a race that President

Putin says US gripped by fabricated spymania, praises Trump

Putin says US gripped by fabricated spymania, praises Trump

Reuters, Moscow :Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the United States was in the grip of a fabricated spymania whipped up by President Donald Trump's opponents but he

Trump promises `giant tax cut` as `Christmas gift` to Americans

Trump promises `giant tax cut` as `Christmas gift` to Americans

PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump today said the Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages, and "massive tax relief" for

Space capsule with 3 astronauts returns to Earth

Space capsule with 3 astronauts returns to Earth

AP, Moscow :Three astronauts on Thursday landed back on Earth after nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.A Russian Soyuz capsule with NASA's Randy Bresnik, Russia's Sergey Ryazanskiy and

South Korean President in China to repair ties

South Korean President in China to repair ties

AP, Beijing :South Korean President Moon Jae-in met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday during a visit to Beijing aimed at repairing ties frayed by a dispute over

News In Brief

US military to send cyber soldiers to the battlefieldAFP, WashingtonThe US Army will soon send teams of cyber warriors to the battlefield, officials said Wednesday, as the military increasingly

Don't ‘sleepwalk into war’ over North Korea, warns UN chief

Don't ‘sleepwalk into war’ over North Korea, warns UN chief

AFP, Tokyo, Japan :United Nations chief Antonio Guterres Thursday warned the world against "sleepwalking into war" over North Korea, as he called for diplomatic efforts to banish nuclear weapons