Tense calm prevails in southwest Syria before truce

Opposition activists report low-level violence in Deraa one day before a new ceasefire deal takes effect.

    Previous ceasefires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long [AP]
    Previous ceasefires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long [AP]

    A day before a new ceasefire deal takes effect in southwestern Syria, the concerned areas are relatively calm with the exception of sporadic attacks by the Syrian regime, a monitoring group have said.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday, the Syrian regime shelled two villages in the northern countryside of Deraa, one of three provinces affected by the ceasefire. 

    The Observatory said at least one person was killed and a total of 16 such bombs were dropped in the area, wounding several.

    The US-Russian-Jordanian brokered deal is to be enforced by midday on Sunday, in the provinces of Deraa, Suweida and Quneitra in the southwest, along the Jordanian border.

    The agreement was the result of a two-hour - first of a kind - meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg on Friday.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said that Russian military police in the area would monitor the ceasefire.

    Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Gaziantep, Turkey, said that it was unclear whether the latest deal would fare any better as, despite such announcements of ceasefires in the past, fighting has continued.

    "Along the southern border, there is sporadic fighting going on. The Syrian opposition is in control for the most part along the border with Jordan and the Syrian forces are trying to regain control, clearly fighting continues despite these ceasefires," she said.

    READ MORE: You probably won't read this piece about Syria

    The deal is separate from an agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran struck earlier this year to try to establish "de-escalation zones" in Syria.

    The US, wary of Iran's involvement, stayed away from that effort. Follow-up talks this week in Kazakhstan were unable to produce agreement on finalising a ceasefire in those zones.

    A new round of UN-sponsored peace talks is to be held in Geneva on Monday. Those talks, aimed at forming a transitional government and "combatting terrorism", have made little progress since they resumed earlier this year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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