BEIRUT: The Syrian army said Thursday it had extended a unilateral suspension of combat operations in southern Syria through the end of Saturday, but rebels said the cease-fire had already been violated by strikes on areas under their control.
The army had announced last Monday a cease-fire it said took effect from midday the previous day until Thursday and was being done to support “reconciliation efforts.”
It was the second unilateral cease-fire in two weeks, but unlike the first declaration extended beyond Deraa city to the whole of southern Syria, including the strategic southwestern Qunaitra province near the border with Israel and Swaida province in the southeast.
Elsewhere, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was seeking to clarify a claim by his U.S. counterpart that Washington is ready to work together to set up “no-fly zones” in Syria. “We have asked, but we haven’t got an answer to the question of what no-fly zones are envisioned because there has never been any talk of them,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies during a visit to Paris.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday said the U.S. was “prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones” in Syria.
In Syria, meanwhile, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entry of a bus station in the central city of Hama, killing at least three people and wounding 11, Syrian state-run TV said. The midday explosion occurred at the usually busy station where buses depart to Masyaf, in the Hama countryside.
Al-Ikhbariya TV quoted Hama Gov. Mohammad al-Hazouri saying that a suicide bomber blew himself up at the bus station entry while being inspected by security forces, killing two women and a man and wounding 11 others, two of them in critical condition.