Syria: Truce Holding Through Second Day -- With Exceptions

Anya Wassenberg

In Syria, most of the fighting had stopped by Sunday morning, the second day of the truce brokered by the United States and Russia. The current truce in Syria is the first attempt at such an agreement in the last four years, since the civil war began.

Despite several reported breaches, the truce has brought quiet to the streets of Syria for the first time in years. Children ventured out to play in ruined streets, and the relative calm was noticeable throughout Syria, even as the fight against Islamic State (IS) continued. Loris Atwah, a 65-year-old resident of Damascus, spoke to the Associated Press.

"Today we woke up and it was calm, stable. And even in the street... it was complete calm."

The deal involves ceasing hostilities for a limited period of two weeks. It was hoped that limiting the focus of the Syrian truce agreement would help to promote compliance. However, the truce agreement itself allows for retaliation in the event of any breaches.

The Syrian conflict has now raged for nearly four years, leaving more than 250,000 dead, a million wounded, and has driven millions of people out of their homes and their country. The Syrian civil war has created the world's worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Despite today's relative calm in Syria, most international observers don't hold out much hope for the new truce agreement.

Many conflicting reports have come in from Syria since the start of the truce at midnight on Friday (Damascus time,) in part because there are no impartial observers on the ground. Russia announced it would suspend flights over Syria on Saturday to avoid shelling non-ISIS targets. However, insurgent groups have reported shelling from Russian planes in Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-backed organization, claims there were at least seven incidents involving war planes. The attacks occurred largely in north and west Aleppo, including several towns that are said to be under Islamist control. Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, noted the confusion.

"We do not know which planes carried out the strikes and also we are not sure if this is considered a breach to the truce because it is not clear if these towns are included in the truce."

"The decision is to remain quiet, not to do anything, and I believe they will stick to the truce. Yesterday was the first day people can really go out and walk in the streets."

[Photo by Hassan Ammar/AP]