US, Russia extend Syrian ceasefire to Aleppo

WASHINGTON, May 4 (KUNA) — The US and Russia have agreed to extend the Cessation of Hostilities to include Aleppo and its surrounding areas, and will both monitor the implementation of the deal between Syria’s regime and its opposition, US officials said on Wednesday.
“Since this went into effect today at 00:01 in Damascus, we have seen an overall decrease in violence in these areas, even though there have been reports of continued fighting in some locations,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said in a press statement.
The US official also welcomed the reaffirmation of the cessation in Eastern Ghouta for the next 48 hours.
“To ensure this continues in a sustainable way, we are coordinating closely with Russia to finalize enhanced monitoring efforts of this renewed cessation.” The US official went on to urge Russia to press for the Al-Assad regime’s compliance on the deal, adding that, in turn, the US would “do its part” where the opposition is concerned.
The US objective remains, however, a “single nationwide cessation of hostilities covering all of Syria – not a series of local truces” pursuant to the terms of the arrangements established in Munich in February 2016, he added.
“We are determined to reaffirm the Cessation of Hostilities across Syria and will continue expanding this effort so we can de-escalate the violence, alleviate the suffering, and help create the conditions that enable the parties to resume negotiations focused on a political transition, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique,” he said.
Earlier, State Secretary John Kerry said that US and Russian military officials would be jointly carrying out a monitoring system of cease-fire violations in Syria, according to the Washington Post on Wednesday.
He told reporters that if Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s “strategy is to somehow think he’s going to carve out Aleppo … I’ve got news for him.” Speaking after a second attack on a hospital in Aleppo in a week, he acknowledged that it “appears to be rockets that have come from some area of opposition – we are trying to determine which.” On the group Jabhat Al-Nusra, he said “we don’t control terrorists. They can obviously move and try to use other people as a human shield.” (end) sd.ibi

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