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Syrian Cease-fire Largely Holding as UN Convenes New Peace Talks

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he walks past damaged buildings in a rebel-held part of the southern city of Deraa, Syria, July 9, 2017.

A Syrian war monitor said Monday a cease-fire covering three provinces in the southern part of the country was largely holding with a few reports of violence, while the Syrian government and rebels prepared to open the latest round of U.N.-brokered peace talks aimed at ending the six-year conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported scattered cease-fire violations in Daraa and Quneitra provinces. The halt in fighting brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan also includes Sweida province.

U.S., Russian, and Jordanian diplomats put together the cease-fire on the sidelines of last week's G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

While neither the Syrian government nor the opposition were involved in the cease-fire talks, a Syrian official told Reuters that President Bashar Al-Assad's government welcomes any step that could "pave the way to a peaceful solution."

A statement from opponents of Assad noted the groups were wary about what they called "secret meetings and understandings between Russia, Jordan, and America for the south of Syria, separate from the north."

Both opposition and Syrian representatives are taking part in the U.N. peace talks Monday in Geneva.

Previous cease-fires have fallen apart quickly, and earlier rounds of U.N.-led peace talks broke up with little progress toward a permanent truce.

However, the deputy United Nations envoy for Syria, Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi, said the new cease-fire created a "suitable atmosphere" for Monday's meetings.

And the lead U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, told reporters last week that he sees "movement" with "real engagement" and pointed to the change in dynamics from the situation that existed in the past few years when efforts to even convene peace talks got nowhere.