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Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the cease-fire deal brokered by the US and Russia “may be the last chance we have to save a united Syria,” CNN reported on Monday, hours after the truce started.
The Obama administration believes a truce leading to negotiations “is the only realistic possible solution,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department.
Kerry acknowledged the temporary peace deal is “less than perfect” but said the situation in Syria before the deal was “worse than flawed,” according to CNN.
Kerry said it was too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the cease-fire, and cast no doubt that some violence would be reported “here and there,” according to Reuters.
As part of the ceasefire, the Syrian army has announced a halt to military operations for seven days. The ceasefire, if it manages to remain in effect, will allow the delivery of aid and humanitarian assistance to besieged areas of the nation.
Early reports demonstrate some reduction of violence in Syria but there’s also mounting evidence showing how hard it will be to ensure that the ceasefire remains intact.
The Free Syrian Army, according to the BBC, has said that it will “co-operate positively” with the ceasefire. However, the group also voiced concerns that the deal will ultimately benefit the Syrian government at the expense of rebel held areas.
And Ahrar al-Sham, a major Islamist group operating in the country, initially announced via an online statement that it would not respect the ceasefire as the group “is not bound by the truce and won’t abide by it.”
Like the Free Syrian Army, the group also doubted the ceasefire and said a truce would only benefit Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, making it difficult for a “genuine reduction in violence” to occur, according to Daily Caller.
- Stringer . / Reuters
Ahrar al-Sham also called out the ceasefire for the provision that, should the deal hold for seven days and humanitarian aid flows unimpeded, Russia and the US would begin joint strikes against the al Qaeda Jabhat Fatah al-Sham affiliate and would share intelligence through a Joint Implementation Center (JIC).
“We’re going to measure [the situation in Syria] every single day, and we’ll see where we are,” Kerry said about the possible implementation of the JIC.
A later statement from State Department Spokesperson John Kirby stated that the purpose of the (JIC) was to coordinate with Russia, and that Syria would have no role in the effort.
“A primary purpose of this agreement, from our perspective, is to prevent the Syrian regime air force from flying or striking in any areas in which the opposition or Nusra are present. The purpose of the JIC, if and when it is established, would be to coordinate military action between the US and Russia, not for any other party,” said Kirby.
Ahrar al-Sham said that ultimately, the ceasefire was an “unjust agreement” that signaled the lack of seriousness on the international community’s part to end the multi-year Syrian conflict.
Another major sticking point that the opposition has with the ceasefire is the lack of an enforcement mechanism to ensure that all parties abide by the truce. However, The Washington Post reports that Kerry said the situation will be constantly closely monitored and that if the peace process is not met then the US will refuse to participate in the JIC with Russia.
The ceasefire is also on rocky ground due to luke warm support from the Syrian government. Hours before the start of the cease-fire, President Assad vowed to “retake every inch of Syria,” adding that the army would continue its work “without hesitation, regardless of any internal or external circumstances” without mentioning the truce agreement explicitly, Reuters reported.
Additionally, neither Assad nor the rebel groups have officially accepted the ceasefire. However, both sides have said signaled that they will comply with the agreement, The Washington post reports.