Agence France Presse
BEIRUT: A cease-fire brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan brought quiet Sunday to front lines in southern Syria ahead of fresh U.N.-sponsored peace talks on the country’s 6-year-old conflict. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said clashes and shelling had halted in the three southern provinces covered by the truce, Deraa, Qunaitra, and Swaida, as it went into effect at noon local time.
The cease-fire deal was announced Friday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and comes as Syrian government and opposition delegations are due to attend a new round of talks in Geneva from Monday.
“The main fronts in the three provinces between regime forces and opposition factions have seen a cessation of hostilities and shelling since this morning, with the exception of a few scattered shells fired on Deraa city before noon,” said Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.
The Observatory said that the cease-fire was holding by early Sunday evening.
The Syrian regime had announced its own unilateral cease-fire last Monday but fighting had continued on front lines in the three southern provinces.
The cease-fire deal comes after regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey agreed during talks in May in the Kazakh capital Astana to set up four “de-escalation” zones in Syria.
The United States has largely stepped back from involvement in the diplomatic process to resolve the Syrian conflict since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Trump said he had discussed the conflict with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a series of tweets Sunday, two days after they met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
“We negotiated a cease-fire in parts of Syria which will save lives,” he wrote on Twitter. “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”
In northwest Syria, meanwhile, a powerful coalition, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, led by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah al-Sham said Sunday it had arrested around 100 members of Daesh (ISIS) in the opposition-held Idlib province.