Syrian opposition accuses regime of violating cessation deal

Head of Syrian High Negotiations Committee accuses Assad regime and its allies of violating cessation of hostilities

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Cessation deal in Syria violated by regime in its second day

Syrian opposition has accused the Syrian regime and its allies of killing 29 people in attacks following the recently agreed cessation of hostilities agreement.

In a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, head of the opposition-linked Syrian High Negotiations Committee (SHNC) Riyad Hijab said that Bashar al Assad's regime, Russia, Iran and other foreign armed units were carrying out attacks against Syrian people despite an agreement to cease hostilities put into force on February 27.

Hijab said the regime forces have violated the deal in 25 different regions held by the opposition with 24 artillery shelling incidents and five ground operations.

He also said that Russian warplanes supported regime forces by carrying out 26 air attacks, including attacks with cluster and vacuum bombs around Aleppo Province and in the city of Zabadani in the Rif Dimashq Province.

The SHNC says, "The truce in Syria faced 'complete nullification' because of regime attacks. The regime has violated the agreement drawn up by the United States and Russia."

According to Al Arabiya al Hadath TV, Asaad al Zoubi, head of the High Negotiations Committee's delegation to peace talks, stated the ceasefire had collapsed before it began.

He indicated without giving details "We have alternatives to protect our people if the international organisations could not."

Zoubi added there were "no signs" that the ground was being prepared for a peace talks meeting led by the United Nations for March 7, as the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura announced resuming peace talks between the warring parties.

The head of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the identity of the jets was not clear.

"We do not know which planes carried out the strikes and also we are not sure if this is considered a breach to the truce because it is not clear if these towns are included in the truce," he said.

Nothing related to the violation of the cessation deal or the air strikes were mentioned by Syrian regime media, and Russia's Defence Ministry refused to comment.

The committee called on the UN and the the 17-nation Syria support group to take necessary measures to stop Russian violations.

Al Nasr Army, a group affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which has backed the deal, said that regime forces had violated the truce in Hama province. Regime forces have fired mortars, rockets and warplanes have constantly been flying in the sky, said the group.

The cessation of hostilities agreement, brokered last week by the US and Russia, came into effect midnight Friday local time.

"Let's pray that this works because frankly this is the best opportunity we can imagine the Syrian people have had for the last five years in order to see something better and hopefully something related to peace," UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said at a midnight news conference in Geneva.

"I think that the feeling that we have today is that the situation is very different but of course every day has to be monitored," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaking in a news briefing on Monday said that Syria could become a federal state if that model works in the country.

Earlier this month, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, warned long-term ally Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad over his vow to retake all of Syria, saying that if he did not comply with Moscow over the peace process, he would face dire consequences.

Churkin said Russia was working towards a peaceful settlement for Syria and that attempting to take back control over the whole country would be a futile exercise which would allow the conflict to drag on indefinitely.

Syria is currently in a full blown civil war between five main factions - the regime, the opposition, Al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, DAESH, and the YPG militants.

According to recent estimates from The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), the war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 470,000 people.

The SNHR has reported that more than 180,000 civilians have died from the start of the war till January 31 this year.

About 5 million others took refuge in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest number of almost 2.7 million refugees.

Thousands of other refugees' pushing towards European countries has caused a major crisis within the continent.

TRTWorld and agencies