Beirut- Syrian regime’s air campaign against rebel-held areas continues even though a ceasefire has been brokered between a Syrian rebel group Jaysh al-Islam and regime-backing Russian diplomats.
“The ceasefire should have went into implementation as of yesterday March 5 and is held until March 9—given that efforts will be spent on expanding the range of areas the ceasefire covers,” Chief peace negotiator of Syria’s mainstream opposition and Jaysh al-Islam leader Mohammad Alloush told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Despite the announcement of a ceasefire, a weekend of bombings and air strikes in Syria has rattled the talks that began in Geneva last week.
The rebel leader explained that the truce was expected to expand to include rebel-held areas in rural Damascus and Homs, such as eastern Ghouta, and extended till the end of March.
“But regime warplanes persisted its extensive day-time campaigns,” Alloush added.
The main opposition group at Syrian peace talks in Geneva wants to meet Russian envoys to discuss Moscow’s broken ceasefire promises, a move diplomats say aims to put pressure on the Russian-backed Syrian regime delegation.
“We receive promises from Russians whilst regime forces continue their indiscriminate pounding of rebel areas—it is either that Moscow is dishonest or unable to influence the regime and other forces backing it,” Alloush said
“How could decisions be made based on inconceivable promises, which has been the case lately, and which will effect cooperation over the coming period,” the chief negotiator added.
When elaborating on whether the ‘silent skies’ ceasefire, if implemented successfully, would present a new start and a positively influence the course of negotiations, Alloush was not very optimistic.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura had said that Russia has formally requested the Syrian regime to silence its own skies during intra-Syrian peace talks set to kick off on Feb. 23, in a bid to give negotiations the maximum chance of success.
“Indicatives are not encouraging with respect to the ceasefire, neither on a political nor a military scope—the journey is still long, especially with close to no progress being registered on humanitarian issues,” the rebel leader explained.
“We do not count on any positions put forth by the regime—the regime and its delegation to Geneva did not reflect any real intention of negotiating—the announcement on its acceptance of political transition remains nothing but words without any practical steps,” Alloush added.