U.S.-Russia Brokered Syrian Ceasefire Ends After One Week As Air Strikes Slam Into Aid Trucks

By: 09.19.16
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The U.S.-Russian brokered Syrian ceasefire has been hanging by a thread almost since it began and has been declared “clinically dead,” according to a Monday AP report about the perspectives of Syrian opposition leaders and President Bashar Assad’s government. The Guardian then spoke with a Syrian army spokesperson, who assessed that the ceasefire is over with no indications of a renewal. Reuters adds that either Syrian or Russian airstrikes hit aid trucks as reports of the ended ceasefire were confirmed by the Syrian government.

The peace agreement went into effect last Monday, Sept. 12 and has been fraught with tensions and violations since it began. The stated goal of the truce was to unite allies of the Syrian military (Russia, Iran) and allies of the rebel forces (U.S., Britain) to fight against ISIS and Nusra front militants.

In a statement on Monday, the Syrian military insisted that armed terrorist groups repeatedly violated the ceasefire and accused the rebel forces of wasting a “real chance” to end the civil war. Hours later at around 8 p.m. local time, residents of the Syrian city of Aleppo reported airstrikes on rebel-held areas of the city.

On Monday, George Sabra of the High Negotiations Committee told the Associated Press that “the truce has been repeatedly violated and did not succeed in opening roads for aid to enter besieged rebel-held areas.” Opposition forces have reported 254 violations by government forces since the ceasefire began. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 92 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the truce, a number that includes 29 children and teenagers and 17 women.

For their part, rebel fighters have killed 63 civilians and 153 Syrian soldiers since the peace agreement took effect, according to the Russian military. On Monday afternoon, Russian Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said that due to rebel violations, “It has become meaningless for the Syrian government forces to unilaterally observe the ceasefire.”

On Monday, Assad was quoted on Syrian state TV saying that a U.S.-led airstrike against Syrian troops over the weekend was carried out in support of ISIS. The airstrike, which coalition forces insist was an error, killed 62 Syrian soldiers in the city of Deir al-Zour, an eastern Syrian city that is a frontline between the Syrian army and ISIS. Australia, Denmark, and Britain have confirmed their participation in the airstrike, which the U.S. insists was called off as soon as Russian forces informed them of their mistake.

After a week-long ceasefire, U.S. and Russian intelligence services intended to open a Joint Implementation Center to plan coordinated airstrikes against terrorists. However, U.S. officials said on Monday that conditions were not right. Russia’s Foreign Ministry concurred, stating that violations of the agreement by Syrian rebels “threatens the cease-fire and U.S.-Russian agreements.” Despite the bad blood, the State Department has said it will continue to work with Russia to strengthen the agreement and increase humanitarian aid.

(Via AP, The Guardian & Reuters)

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