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Syria government 'approves' US-Russia peace agreement

The nationwide ceasefire is planned to begin at sunset on Monday

Katie Forster
Saturday 10 September 2016 15:57 BST
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A man walks past damaged vehicles after an airstrike in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus on 9 September
A man walks past damaged vehicles after an airstrike in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus on 9 September (Reuters)

The Syrian government has approved the peace deal agreed by the US and Russia, according to state news agency SANA.

A nationwide ceasefire is planned to begin at sunset on Monday after lengthy talks between the two world powers in Geneva.

The state media outlet said the "cessation of hostilities" would begin in Aleppo "for humanitarian reasons", reported Associated Press.

It did not say when the violence will stop, adding that the US-Russia agreement “was reached with the knowledge and approval of the Syrian government.”

Syrian government warplanes continued to bombard rebel-held areas around the country on Saturday while insurgents shelled government-held neighborhoods in violence that left dozens killed or wounded.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the agreement could be a “turning point” for the war-torn country if implemented.

Mr Kerry said the plan was intended “to reduce violence, ease suffering and resume movement towards a negotiated peace and a political transition in Syria.”

Syria: HNC's Bassma Kodmani reacts to ceasefire deal

“The Syrian government has approved the agreement, and a cessation of hostilities will begin in Aleppo for humanitarian reasons,” wrote SANA, citing "informed sources".

A mainstream rebel group has said the new ceasefire could signal “the beginning of the end of the civilians' ordeal” in Syria.

High Negotiations Committee spokesperson Bassma Kodmani said the body welcomed the deal “if it is going to be enforced.”

The onus was on Russia as its influence “was the only way to get the regime to comply,” her statement added.

However, not all rebels fighting in the war-torn country shared Dr Kodmani's optimism, with some saying there was little chance of the new agreement succeeding.

Free Syrian Army regional leader Fares al-Bayoush said Russia and Damascus had not observed the last agreement, and the chances of the new deal succeeding were the same as the last one.

A ceasefire reached by the two world powers earlier this year and put into effect in late February failed shortly afterward and was followed by months of violence the killed thousands.

Russia is a main backer of Assad's government while the U.S. has been supporting rebel groups trying to remove him from power.

Syria's conflict, now in its sixth year, has continued despite several rounds of peace talks and international attempts to try end the violence. At least a quarter million people have been killed and half the country's prewar population displaced.

Additional reporting by agencies

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