Calm Prevails in South-Western Syria in the Leadup to Ceasefire Brokered by US and Russia

Published July 9th, 2017 - 03:00 GMT
Smoke and flames rise from buildings following a reported government strike on a rebel-held area in Syria's southern city of Daraa late on July 3, 2017. (AFP)
Smoke and flames rise from buildings following a reported government strike on a rebel-held area in Syria's southern city of Daraa late on July 3, 2017. (AFP)

Calm prevailed in south-western Syria on Sunday hours before a ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Russia, was to go into effect there, a monitoring group reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that the area was quiet early Sunday after regime helicopters had dropped overnight barrels packed with explosives on rebels in the southern city of Daraa. No casualties were reported.

The partial truce is to be enforced Sunday at noon (0900 GMT) in the provinces of Daraa, Sweida and Quneitra in the south-west, along the Jordanian border.

Jordan has agreed on the ceasefire, the latest in attempts to curb violence in war-torn Syria.

The deal was the result of a two-hour meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday.

Moscow is a key military supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Washington backs moderate rebels fighting to oust him.

US National Security Advisor HR McMaster called the ceasefire a "hopeful step."

McMaster said late Saturday the US was "encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement."

"The United States remains committed to defeating ISIS [Islamic State], helping to end the conflict in Syria, reducing suffering, and enabling people to return to their homes," he added.

"This agreement is an important step toward these common goals."

Similar agreements have been brokered in Syria in the past with the aim of getting the country's peace process back on track following a prolonged civil strife that began in 2011.

All have failed to halt the fighting for very long.

Syrian rivals are to come together for a seventh time in Geneva on Monday for UN-sponsored talks, a few days after a meeting in Kazakhstan.

Diplomats from Russia, Iran, Turkey and the US were participating in the Astana talks along with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Syria's crisis began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

The conflict soon spiralled into a multilateral civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced about half the pre-war population of 22 million.



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