Calm prevails amid Syria ceasefire

Damascus, Dec 31 (IANS) Calm prevailed in most of the Syrian territories where a truce between the Syrian army and rebel factions came into force on Friday, a monitoring group reported on Saturday.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also said it has registered violations of the ceasefire in several provinces, Efe news reported.

Rebel groups violated the ceasefire 12 times in its first 24 hours, according to the Russian coordination centre located at Hamimim military base, in the Syrian province of Latakia.

The SOHR recorded clashes in the Barada river valley in Damascus between government forces and allied militias and the Conquest of the Levant Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, and other Islamist rebel groups.

Damascus has insisted that the Conquest Front should be excluded from the truce, while opposition rebels believe that it should be included as it is present in many areas along with other armed factions, with which they sometimes fight shoulder to shoulder.

The NGO also reported that regime forces have used heavy submachine guns to attack rebels in several areas of the town of Alma, in the southern province of Deraa.

In this province there have also been fights between armed men loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, and rebels and Islamists.

The ceasefire agreement, hammered out between Russia and Turkey, was backed by the Syrian Army’s General Command, the Syrian Armed Forces and rebel factions.

The deal aims to lead the way towards a new round of peace talks, scheduled to begin towards the end of January 2017 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

–IANS

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