Syria: Truce Holding Through Second Day — With Exceptions

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 embattled Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad agreed to the truce in order to facilitate aid workers and supplies to reach civilian populations. Some 13 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian aid.

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The truce itself is a less formal agreement than a ceasefire, and it was not directly signed by the various sides of the ongoing fighting in Syria. It does cover the Syrian army, along with some of the armed opposition groups through the Higher Negotiations Committee (HNC), an umbrella group based in Saudi Arabia. Up to 97 of the opposition groups covered under the HNC have signed on to the truce agreement. However, there are over 160 armed opposition groups active in Syria today. ISIS and the Nusra Front, the local al-Qaeda affiliate, and their locations, are not party to the truce in Syria, with the Nusra Front recently calling for increased attacks. To further complicate the situation, many of the HNC groups fight alongside IS and Nusra Front in some regions of Syria, blurring the lines between what is covered and what is not by the truce agreement.

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.