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Truce Faces "Nullification", Says Syrian Opposition Official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A boy looks on while residents inspect a damaged building in the rebel held besieged city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus, Syria February 27, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

A boy looks on while residents inspect a damaged building in the rebel held besieged city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus, Syria February 27, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

A fragile cessation of hostilities that took effect early on Saturday is facing “complete nullification” because of government attacks that violated the agreement put together by the United States and Russia, a Syrian opposition official said.

Countries supporting the Syria peace process will meet at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) in Geneva on Monday as France demanded answers on attacks in breach of the cessation of hostilities.

“We have received indications that attacks, including by air, have been continuing against zones controlled by the moderate opposition,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“All this needs to be verified. France has therefore demanded that the task force charged with overseeing the cessation of hostilities meet without delay.”

A spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said the cessation of hostilities was broken by Syria’s government 15 times within the first day, and that there were further violations by Russia and Hezbollah, both allies of President Bashar al-Assad.

Asaad al-Zoubi, head of HNC delegation to peace talks, said the truce had collapsed before it started, Al Arabiya al Hadath TV reported.

“We are not facing a violation of the truce… we are facing a complete nullification,” he said, and “we have alternatives to protect our people” if the international community could not.

“I believe the international community has totally failed in all its experiments, and must take real, practical measures towards the regime,” Zoubi said, without giving further details.

He added there were “no indicators” that the ground was being prepared for peace talks, which the United Nations has said it plans to reconvene on March 7.

Talks in Geneva in early February collapsed before they got off the ground, with rebels saying they could not negotiate while they were being bombed.

Since the cessation of hostilities came into effect government and Russian warplanes have struck areas in several western provinces of Syria, according to monitors. However, a Syrian military source denied on Saturday that the army had committed any violations.

Also, Syrian state media accused armed groups of firing dozens of mortar rounds in Latakia province on Sunday. The anti-Assad groups in the area denied the reports.

Despite the several violations by Syrian government forces, the Syria’s opposition expressed on Sunday its commitment to the cessation of hostilities aiming to keep people safe and bring the brutal conflict to an end.

The plan excludes operations on ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, which Moscow and Damascus have said they will continue to target. The opposition worries that they will use this exception as a pretext to strike other opposition groups.

The United Nations hopes the cessation of hostilities agreement, which is less binding than a formal ceasefire and was not directly signed by the Syrian warring sides, can pave the way for a more formal ceasefire.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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