Warring parties accept US-Russia truce plan


The Syrian government and the main opposition umbrella group say they accept the terms of a deal to cease hostilities from Saturday.

The government said it would halt “combat operations” in line with the plan announced by the US and Russia.

But the opposition said its acceptance depended on government forces ending sieges and air strikes of civilians.

The deal will not apply to the two main jihadist groups in Syria, Islamic State (IS) and the rival al-Nusra Front.

Al-Nusra is an affiliate of al-Qaeda and forms part of a major rebel alliance that controls large parts of the country’s north-west.

More than 250,000 people have died in almost five years of war in Syria.

Eleven million others have fled their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other, as well as IS militants.

Under the terms of the agreement announced by the US and Russia on Monday, the Syrian government and opposition were required to indicate by noon on Friday (10:00 GMT) whether they would comply with the cessation of hostilities.

The High Negotiation Committee (HNC), which represents most of the main opposition and rebel factions, issued a statement after a meeting in Saudi Arabia saying it was “committed to the success of the international efforts dedicated to ending Syrian bloodshed”.

But it warned that “acceptance of the truce is conditional” on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254, which calls on all parties to lift sieges, allow aid deliveries, halt aerial and artillery attacks on civilians, and release detainees.

The Syrian government later declared “its acceptance of a halt to combat operations on the basis of continuing military efforts to combat terrorism”.

It added that it would work with Russia, which has conducted air strikes against Mr Assad’s opponents since September, to identify areas and armed groups that were covered and reserved the right to “respond to any breach by these groups “.


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