01/03/2017, 09.47
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Syria: "fragile" ceasefire at risk, the rebels ready to boycott peace talks

The anti-Assad front threatens to suspend participation in preparatory talks. Rebel militias speak of "many serious violations" of the cease-fire. Accusations rejected by the government who say they respect all points. Contested areas include the rebel bastion of Wadi Barada, essential for Damascus water supply.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The "fragile" national truce in Syria is at risk, signed on December 30 last by the Syrian government and rebel militias. The anti-Assad front is ready to suspend participation in the preparations for peace talks promoted by Russia and Turkey, scheduled for later this month in Astana, Kazakhstan.

In a note the militias denounce "many serious violations" of the cease-fire by the army loyalist. The truce, which, at first, seemed to hold on several fronts now appears increasingly endangered, and with it emerges the prospect of further escalation of violence.

The ceasefire excludes the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, including former Nusra Front (offshoot of al Qaeda in the country). Russian President Vladimir Putin however, says the truce is fragile.  Meanwhile, the future aims of the Iranian Russian axis in Syria after the recent recapture of Aleppo remain unclear.

In an official statement published yesterday, signed by various rebel groups,  there is a denunciation of "the regime and its allies" who continue "to shoot and commit numerous and serious violations" of the cease-fire. "Given that these violations continue - continues the statement - the rebel factions announce ... the freezing of all discussions related to the Astana negotiations".

Among the disputed points, the ongoing fighting in the rebel bastion of Wadi Barada, near Damascus; according to the opposition the area would be subject to daily bombardments by government. In recent weeks the rebels have accused the army of Assad and allies of trying to take the area in every way, strategic for the water supply of the capital. And the water, as pointed out recently by  Card. Mario Zenari in an interview with AsiaNews, is one of the major emergencies in Damascus.

In response, the government army denies any wrongdoing and claims to respect all the points provided for in the agreement on a national cease-fire.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted its support for the joint efforts of Moscow and Ankara to end the Syrian conflict and revive the peace talks. In almost six years of war more than 300 thousand people have been  killed - according to some sources up to 450 thousand - and millions displaced, creating the worst humanitarian disaster in recent history.

On a nominal level the truce is on a national scale; in reality it only covers western Syria, where government troops and rebel militias involved in the agreement have a marked presence.

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See also
Truce between the Syrian government and rebels holds. Most “serious" to date
30/12/2016 09:51
Card. Zenari: Truce a "positive" step that brings some "relief". Damascus faces water emergency
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Peace in Syria and a new world geopolitics: Moscow celebrates the Erdogan-Assad alliance
08/09/2016 17:04
Moscow: security zones and no-fly zones to strengthen ceasefire in Syria
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Turkish raids against the Islamic State (and Kurdish militia) in Syria
23/08/2016 09:49


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