Syria rebels say ceasefire ‘void’ if government violations persist; UNSC to vote on ceasefire agreement

Syrian rebel groups said on Saturday they would consider a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey “null and void” if the Damascus government’s forces and their allies continued to violate it, while the UN Security Council is expected to vote on the ceasefire agreement Saturday.

UN Security Council to vote on the ceasefire agreement on Saturday

Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has urged the United Nations to give its blessing to the fragile ceasefire, the third truce this year seeking to end nearly six years of war in Syria. The UN Security Council scheduled a vote for Saturday on a resolution that would endorse the ceasefire agreement in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey, and reiterate support for a roadmap to peace that starts with a transitional government. The Russian-sponsored resolution also calls for “rapid, safe and unhindered” access to deliver humanitarian aid throughout the country. And it looks forward to a meeting in late January between the Syrian government and opposition in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana “as an important part of the Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations.”

Clashes in Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghouta

Clashes and air strikes have persisted in some areas since the ceasefire began on Friday, though the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said on Saturday the truce was still largely holding. “Continued violations by the regime and bombardment and attempts to attack areas under the control of the revolutionary factions will make the agreement null and void,” a statement signed by a number of rebel groups said. It said government forces and their allies had been trying to press advances, particularly in Souq Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghouta.

wadi-barada-161230-01

In their statement, the rebels said it appeared the government and the opposition had signed two different versions of the ceasefire deal, one of which was missing “a number of key and essential points that are non-negotiable”, but did not say what those were. There has been confusion over which groups in the opposition are included in the ceasefire. Daesh is not included. The Syrian army said on Thursday the militant group formerly known as the Jabhat al-Nusra was not part of the truce. However, several rebel officials said the group, which has been renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, was also included in the ceasefire deal.

Sources: Syria & Iraq News/Reuters/Associated Press/CGTN

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