Violence Slows in Syria After De-escalation Plan Takes Effect

Location Syria. Green pin on the map.

Fighting between the Syrian government and rebel militias has slowed down in Syria since the implementation of a ceasefire plan brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey in talks in Kazakhstan last Thursday.

Implemented at midnight on Saturday, May 6, the agreement established four ceasefire zones around various rebel-held areas, including in Idlib, Hama, Latakia, and East Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus.

While the plan has led to a reduction in violence, clashes have continued around the rebel-held village of al-Zalakiyat in Hama Governorate, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitor. No casualties were reported from that incident.

Other sporadic violence has also been reported in central and southern Syria, leaving four opposition fighters dead and a child wounded, according to the Observatory and other rebel sources.

Details of the ceasefire still have to be worked out before the plan is finalized, which Russian officials say will take at least one month. In addition to uncertainty regarding the location of some of the de-escalation zones, the Syrian regime also made exemptions on bombings carried out against the Islamic State and what the regime ambiguously termed “terrorist groups.” It remains to be seen how those uncertainties will ultimately affect the ceasefire.

While armed rebel groups were highly critical of the arrangement, and a rebel delegation to negotiations in Kazakhstan insisted that the ceasefire cover all of Syria, rebel activists from all around the country told the Associated Press on Saturday that there has been a noticeable reduction in regime shelling and air strikes.

“Despite some violations, the situation is much calmer than before,” opposition activist Mohammed al-Homsi told the Associated Press.

Syrian state media said much the same, reporting “relative calm in wide parts of Syria” on Saturday.

The United States is not a party to the agreement, but a Pentagon spokesperson said the plan would not affect U.S. operations against ISIS ongoing in the country.

The Syrian civil war began in 2011, and has left some 400,000 people dead from fighting and deprivation. Russia and Iran-backed militias support the Syrian regime in its fight against an assortment of rebel factions, while Turkey, the Arab Gulf States, and the West support the rebel opposition.

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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.

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