While a “cessation of hostilities” agreement in Syria will come into effect at midnight today amidst broad support from almost all parties, the US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that Iran has withdrawn “a large number of Revolutionary Guards forces” and “has reduced their numbers on the ground” in Syria. However, Kerry also said that “this does not refute that they (the Iranians) are still involved in activities that relate to the flow of weapons from Syria to Lebanon via Damascus” whilst he addressed the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He also indicated that Washington is “concerned” about this matter.
In light of fears that the truce that will last for two weeks and may be extended will be broken, there is Russian- American conflict regarding the “plan B” that America has spoken of a lot. A senior US official told the CBS news network yesterday that the plan B does not include the partition of Syria in any form but rather includes other options that relate to imposing a number of sanctions and measures that would make it difficult for the Syrian regime and its allies to continue attacking civilians and Syrian opposition forces.
On the other hand, in comments quoted by the Russian media yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that there is no plan B for the ceasefire agreement in Syria and that there will not be any such agreement in the future.
On the ground, military operations along all Syrian fronts intensified yesterday with each party trying to achieve field gains that can be used in any future negotiations. Opposition factions managed to seize the towns of Al-Durra and Al-Sarraf in the countryside of Latakia while the regime’s forces recaptured Khanasir, a town in the southern Aleppo countryside, from ISIS whilst the Ahrar Al-Sham and Bayan movements broadcasted a video showing a car bombing at a site where Russian soldiers had gathered in the Snubar Jableh area that is close to the city of Latakia.