A cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria, brokered by the US and Russia, officially came into effect last Saturday.
Though violence has not stopped, it has “plummeted,” according to AFP’s Beirut correspondent Maya Gebeily. The number of airstrikes has also reportedly dropped from around 100 to about six to eight per day, Reuters reported, citing a Western diplomat.
Russia, which launched a bombing campaign on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back in September, said it would halt airstrikes for 24 hours. It was meant to ensure that no groups included in the agreement — which applies to most moderate, anti-Assad rebel factions — were accidentally targeted.
But opposition activists in rebel-held areas say Russia is still bombing them, despite Moscow’s claim that it would only target areas controlled by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State — jihadist groups excluded from the peace plan and considered fair game for airstrikes.
The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), an umbrella group encompassing many of Syria’s more mainstream rebel groups, compiled a list of all of the suspected violations and sent it out in a press release on Tuesday.
The Committee claims that regime forces and/or Russian warplanes have attacked rebel-held positions in Homs, Hama, Damascus, Quneitra, Daraa and Idlib since Saturday.
The Institute for the Study of War mapped Russia’s airstrikes before and after the agreement took effect. The maps showed that while Russia’s bombing campaign has slowed, its warplanes have continued to aggressively target rebel-held positions northwest of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
View the maps below:
The recent push by Assad’s forces — backed by Russian air cover and Iran-backed Shi’ite militias — to cut off rebel supply lines from Turkey into Aleppo has resulted in some of the most significant battlefield gains for the regime since the Syrian civil war war erupted in 2011.
The maps showed that Russian airstrikes have also targeted areas in Idlib province and around Homs.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addressed these accusations in a press conference on Monday.
“We have received indications that attacks, including by air, have been continuing against zones controlled by the moderate opposition,” Ayrault told reporters at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to Reuters.
He then “demanded” that the task force charged with overseeing the cessation of hostilities “meet without delay” to resolve the disputes.
The Russian Ministry of Defence, for its part, said that both moderate and terrorist opposition factions had violated the agreement repeatedly since Saturday’s truce.
“According to the Chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko, in the course of 24 hours, 9 events of the ceasefire violation were registered,” the ministry wrote on its Facebook page.
Major world powers took part in a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in early February to announce the terms of the plan, which was to be implemented with the help of two task forces focused on providing humanitarian aid to besieged cities and creating modalities to end the violence.
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