News / Middle East

    UN: Syria Cease-fire Largely Holding Despite 'Incidents'

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a news conference at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 29, 2016.
    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a news conference at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 29, 2016.
    VOA News

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that despite "some incidents" the cessation of hostilities in Syria is largely holding on its third day.

    Ban said several reported violations of the agreement are troubling; however, he noted that a multinational task force monitoring the truce is working to make sure violations do not spread and the halt in fighting can continue.

    He stressed that the break in fighting continue. “We can continue to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to many people, at least 400,000 people who are living in besieged areas. ... So, it is absolutely important and crucial that the parties keep their promise. That is a very important one.”

    Attack allegations

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for a meeting of the task force "without delay" to discuss reported air attacks on rebel-held areas.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford speak at the Pentagon in Washington, Feb. 29, 2016. Carter said the Syrian cease-fire, if "properly adhered to," could lead to a decline in violence.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford speak at the Pentagon in Washington, Feb. 29, 2016. Carter said the Syrian cease-fire, if "properly adhered to," could lead to a decline in violence.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said "if properly adhered to," the cessation can lead to an overall decline in violence. "It could be the first step towards a political solution that would end the civil war and the suffering of the Syrian people," he added.

    The cease-fire began Saturday.

    There was a noticeable uptick in violation claims on Monday with Syrian rebels alleging the Assad regime attacked towns and villages they hold 26 times. Seven of the breeches they claimed consisted of barrel bombing by low-flying regime helicopters.

    Targeting 'populated areas'

    “The regime has continued to target populated areas using helicopter raids using explosive barrels, resulting in a large number of fatalities and causing significant injuries, most of whom were innocent women and children,” Riad Hijab, the rebels’ chief negotiator, complained in a formal letter to the United Nations.

    Rebels claim there have been 24 recorded breaches involving regime artillery shelling and five incidents of offensive ground operations.

    A Syrian national flag waves as vehicles move slowly on a bridge during rush hour, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 28, 2016.
    A Syrian national flag waves as vehicles move slowly on a bridge during rush hour, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 28, 2016.

    “Hostilities committed by Russian, Iranian, the Syrian regime, and foreign militias and mercenaries allied to them have continued against the Syrian people despite the truce taking effect on 27 February 2016,” Hijab’s said. He added: “Right from the onset of the truce, a large number of violations have been committed by the regime and its allies in several parts of Syria.”

    Hijab said on Sunday Russian fighter jets launched twenty-six air strikes against territory held by opposition groups which have announced and entered into the truce. “Disturbingly significant is the fact that cluster bombs as well as Thermobaric weapons have been used,” he wrote.

    Map of opposition groups

    Rebels say a map issued publicly at the start of the truce by the Russian Ministry of Defense detailing the positions of moderate opposition groups is full of errors. They are urging the U.N. to draw up a separate map.

    Russian monitors Sunday said they have recorded nine violations of the truce, attributing most to the rebels.

    Meanwhile, the U.N. planned to begin aid deliveries Monday in hopes of reaching more than 150,000 Syrians in besieged areas. Many of these people have been without any aid for up to a year, the U.N. said.

    The U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Yacoub El Hillo, said the shipments are scheduled for multiple areas across Syria between Monday and Friday.

    FILE - A convoy of humanitarian aid waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, al-Zabadani and al-Moadhamiya in the Damascus countryside, as
    FILE - A convoy of humanitarian aid waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, al-Zabadani and al-Moadhamiya in the Damascus countryside, as

    "It is the best opportunity that the Syrian people have had over the last five years for lasting peace and stability," he said.

    The U.N. plans to provide those trapped by fighting with food, water and sanitation supplies, medicine and other relief items. Ban said the U.N. needs about two weeks to deliver the humanitarian deliveries.

    UN endorsement

    Less than an hour before the temporary truce went into effect, members of the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the deal.

    At the same meeting, the U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced that if the truce largely holds and humanitarian aid access continues he will reconvene intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva on March 7.

    The co-chairs of the International Support Group for Syria (ISSG), Russia and the United States, will be responsible for addressing violations, not the United Nations.

    President Barack Obama said the United States will do everything it can to make the agreement hold.

    Jamie Dettmer in Turkey and Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 29, 2016 12:06 PM
    The US can end their covert proxy war against the Syrian government at any time, and if the US decides to end the war, you can count on their allies NATO and the Sunni Muslim countries, kingdoms and emirates, and their supported terrorist/rebels combat fighters to end their fighting too?

    Russia is only representing the Syrian government, and has a (free democratic election plan) to let the Syrian people decide by voting on what type of government they want, and who will lead them as president? .. What will the US decision be? .. Will the US continue on with their covert proxy war against Syria, or will they decide to end it? .. Because it's not up to the Russians or Syrian government if this US covert proxy war continues or ends?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora