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Tuesday, September 13

Two very different reports on the first hours of the Syrian ceasefire

Al Jazeera - 14 minutes ago

'No civilian deaths in Syria' as ceasefire brings calm
About 14 violations reported since the truce brokered by US and Russia went into effect across the country on Monday.

No deaths have been documented in Syria since a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US entered its first full day, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
At least 14 violations were reported since the ceasefire took effect on Monday, but most parts of Syria remained relatively calm, the SOHR's Rami Abdulrahman told Al Jazeera.
"No one has died from gunfire over the past 15 hours," he said on Tuesday at 12pm Damascus local time (09:00 GMT). "This is so far the most successful ceasefire to take place in the country."
Al Jazeera's Stephanie Dekker, reporting from Gaziantep on the Turkish side of the Syria-Turkey border, said that while the guns have not gone quiet, there definitely is a military de-escalation.
"No one expected the gunfire to totally stop anyway, including the US," she said.
The AFP news agency reported that residents on both sides of divided city Aleppo passed the night without opposition rocket fire into government-held areas or regime air strikes against rebel districts.

Eid al-Adha holiday

Residents remained out on the streets until midnight, AFP said, taking advantage of the truce to celebrate the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
In the opposition-held central Syrian town of Talbiseh, which came under heavy fire in the run-up to the truce, activist Hassaan Abu Nuh said the government's bombardment had stopped.
"We usually stay up all night with the airplanes, but thank God last night we could all sleep," he told AFP.
In the largely rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, where air strikes killed 13 people on Monday, an activist reported a quiet night too.

READ MORE: Syria ceasefire deal explained

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said in Washington that while it was "far too early to draw conclusions" about the success of the ceasefire, initial reports of the first two hours suggested "some reduction" in violence.
"I urge all the parties to support it because it may be the last chance that one has to save a united Syria," he said.
[...]

The Independent (U.K.) - 3 hours ago - filed from Beirut
 
Syria war ceasefire: Government and rebels violate peace deal 'within hours', say activists
By Bethan McKernan


Ceasefire came into effect at sundown on Monday after a weekend of intense fighting in which approximately 100 civilians were killed 

A new US and Russian backed ceasefire across Syria officially began at 7pm on Monday, but both opposition fighters and pro-government media have said that violations have already taken place.
Residents and media activists in besieged East Aleppo reported that Syrian government helicopters bombed at least one neighbourhood at approximately 8pm, an hour after hostilities were supposed to cease.
In Quneitra in the south of the country, state media said four Syrian army solidiers had died in a rebel group attack. 
The fragile ceasefire is supposed to reduce violence over the next week, before new US and Russian airstrikes begin on extremist groups such as Isis and al-Qaeda allied militants. Negotiators have not publicly stated what geographical areas will be targeted, raising concerns among both the official Syrian opposition and Kurdish militias.
Long term hopes for peace in the five-year conflict were further complicated by an Eid address from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, just hours before hostilities were due to cease, in which he vowed to retake the entire country from rebel hands.  
US Secretary of State John Kerry also caused confusion on Monday evening by saying that the US could be in a position where it approves Syrian government airstrikes against al-Qaeda affiliates. The State Department has since walked back his comments.
Speaking to reporters in Washington DC, Kerry also said that some breaches of the agreement could be expected. 
"Sure, this is less than perfect," he said, addressing crticism that the deal is flawed. "But flawed compared to what? Compared to nothing?"
 
"This catastrophe developed step by step, folks, and it can only be reversed step by step," he said. "This is the best thing we could think of."

The last US and Russian brokered ceasefire came into effect in February, but broke down in a matter of weeks. 
Fighting did not wind down before before the ceasefire came into effect: approximately 100 civilians are thought to have been killed over the weekend in fierce fighting mostly around the rebel-held city of Idlib.
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