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Eid Ceasefire Starts…Syria Holds Its Breath | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike in a rebel-held area in Aleppo on Sunday. Photograph: Ameer Alhalbi/AFP

Beirut- Syrian people held their breaths yesterday until the last hours that preceded the start of a ceasefire at sunset, before an opposition source announced that factions had agreed to stop fighting with some reservations on the Russian-U.S. deal.

Political and military opposition officials held an urgent meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss a Russian-U.S. deal brokered in Geneva by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart John Kerry to start Monday an initial 48-hour truce, which should later hold for the entire week.

“We live in a state of expectation in the absence of any signs showing that the Syrian regime and Russia would respect the ceasefire and a mystery surrounding the deal,” a leading source from the High Negotiation Committees (HNC) told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The source described the current situation in Syria as “complicated.”

Reuters said Monday rebel groups fighting to topple Assad issued a joint statement listing deep reservations with the agreement they described as unjust, echoing concerns outlined in a letter to the United States on Sunday. While the statement did not explicitly back the ceasefire, rebel sources said the groups were abiding by it.

Most Syrian fronts were calm during the first hours of the ceasefire, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russia had announced that the ceasefire would involve all Syrian territories. However, senior Russian military official Sergei Rudskoi told a Moscow briefing that Russia would “continue to carry out strikes against terrorist targets,” while the Syrian regime has announced it would respect the ceasefire for seven days, keeping the right to respond to any breaches.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army legal adviser Osama Abu Zeid said opposition factions were concerned regarding the difficulty to separate areas controlled by Jubhat Fatah al-Sham from those controlled by opposition factions. Abu Zeid added that the deal ignores the foreign factions fighting along the regime, and the attempts to change demographics in Aleppo.

During the first day of Eid, and while supporters of Bashar Assad’s regime were celebrating lavishly in the neighborhoods of Midan and other Damascus areas, regime forces continued to attack Syrian regions.

Bashar Assad appeared driving his car in the destroyed downtown Daraya on his way to perform the Eid prayer. Assad’s presence provoked the opposition and the majority of the silent Syrians, especially Daraya residents who were forced to leave their town in 2012.