Syrian Ceasefire Violated 5 Times In Past 24 Hours, Russia Says

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that they have recorded five violations of the Syrian ceasefire in the past 24 hours, the Russian news agency TASS reports.

According to the article by TASS, two of the five violations were registered in the Syrian province of Aleppo, two in the province of Latakia, and one in Hama province, as detailed in the regular bulletin posted on the Defense Ministry’s official website. The bulletin stated that gunmen for the Liva El Sultan Murat group opened with mortar and machine fire at Kurdish forces in Aleppo from a settlement controlled by the Free Syrian Army.

Specialists from the U.S. and Russian ceasefire centers in the Russian Hmeymim airbase and in Amman, respectively, continue to be worried about terrorist forces undermining the peace process in Syria. Russia’s Defense Ministry also recently stated that 67 civilians were killed and another 65 wounded by militants in the city of Aleppo since the signing of the accord, according to Sputnik News.

“According to the statement, terrorists continued attempts to undermine the peace process in Syria. It cited witness reports from residents of the Hama province who observed Islamist troops controlled by al-Nusra Front terror group on the move in the region’s northwest. The military said this was a sign that jihadists were mounting an offensive.”

Last month, the United States and Russia reached an agreement for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, which came into effect at midnight on February 27 of this year. The truce did not include Islamic terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as the so-called Islamic State (IS), and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

According to the United Nations, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the five-year-long civil war, with millions more being displaced as refugees since it began in March 2011. Washington and Moscow have backed different sides of the conflict; while the United States has funded and armed the Syrian rebels, Russia has been the strongest ally of President Bashar Al-Assad’s government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted by the BBC as praising the truce.

“If implemented and adhered to, this cessation will not only lead to a decline in violence, but also continue to expand the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to besieged areas.”

Despite the violence and continued skirmishes, overall the Syrian truce has held so far, and the number of attacks with heavy weaponry has been dropping in recent weeks. The Syrian government under President Assad has expressed its commitment to honor the ceasefire and halt its military actions. Some factions of the Syrian opposition have expressed serious misgivings about the US-Russian agreement, but in general have obeyed it.

Though the deadline for the truce has gone into effect, military action by the Syrian government and the U.S.-led coalition will continue against Daesh and other jihadist groups that were excluded from the ceasefire.

According to another report by TASS, the truce has had strong international support, especially in the United Nations.

“An hour before the ceasefire came into force, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document was initiated by Russia and the United States and won support from all the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council. United Nations Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, told a briefing after the United Nations Security Council meeting that 97 armed groups in Syria had accepted the ceasefire terms.”

The number of armed groups that have pledged to honor the conditions of the truce remains the same, at 42. It is also unclear at this time whether Kurdish forces fighting in the north will follow the agreement.

This is far from the first time the Syrian truce has been violated by armed groups. According to an article by Reuters, Russian news agencies reported a remarkable 14 breaches of the ceasefire which occurred in five Syrian provinces over the day of March 14, namely Latakia (5), Daraa (5), Aleppo (2), Damascus (1) and Hama (1).

[Photo by Ahmet Sik/Getty Images]