The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Moscow and Washington have agreed that the ceasefire in Syria should include the city of Aleppo, which has recently been the scene of the county’s heaviest fighting. The truce came into force in Aleppo at 12:01 am on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We have seen an overall decrease in violence in these areas, even though there have been reports of continued fighting in some locations,” he said.
“Our objective remains, and has always been, a single nationwide cessation of hostilities covering all of Syria – not a series of local truces,” Toner added.
According to the Syrian military, a 48-hour “regime of silence” is set for Aleppo starting Thursday.
The United Nations “have taken notice” of the Aleppo ceasefire announcement, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said during a Security Council meeting. Feltman once again urged all sides involved in the conflict to begin observing the truce immediately.
Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said that over 90 per cent of Syrian towns and villages have supported the ceasefire since the inclusion of Aleppo.
The ceasefire in Syria doesn’t apply to terrorist organizations, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front.
The French and German foreign ministers praised the ceasefire in Aleppo, saying it would be critical to renewing peace talks on ending Syria’s civil war. “I believe everyone knows and can conclude that there could be no return to the political talks in Geneva if a ceasefire in and around Aleppo is not observed,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday prior to the official announcement of the agreement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Russian and US militaries discussed the Aleppo ceasefire late on Tuesday.
According to UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, the stalled intra-Syrian peace talks between the government and opposition could be resumed if a ceasefire for Aleppo is agreed upon.
In an exclusive interview with RT on April 29, de Mistura stressed that “there is no military solution to this conflict” in Syria.
“There’s been an attempt for five years to have victory and a defeat. There is no victory or defeat on this. There is only a political solution, which means a negotiation. But negotiation needs to have a ceasefire,” the envoy said.
The Geneva peace talks became gridlocked in April after the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition withdrew from the negotiations, citing the deteriorating situation in Aleppo.
Aleppo, one of Syria’s largest cities, remains a hotspot in the Syrian conflict, with various parts of the city held by different groups.
Ongoing hostilities in Aleppo prevented it from being included in the “regime of silence” that was announced by Russia and the U.S. for parts of Latakia and Damascus last week.
On Tuesday, a hospital in the city was attacked by a rocket, killing at least three people and injuring more than a dozen, state-run SANA news agency said, adding that women and children were among the casualties. The facility is in an area under the control of government forces, and was targeted by a radical rebel group, according to Sana.
U.S., Russia agree to extend ceasefire to Aleppo, Syria: State Department, Reuters, May 4, 2016
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