Syrian President Bashar Assad made statements claiming that his government is determined to “reclaim every area from the terrorists, and to rebuild” the country only hours before a cease-fire, brokered by the United States and Russia, went into effect. Assad made the statements to the state news agency known as SANA while on the streets of Daraya, a once highly populated suburb in Damascus.
The week-long ceasefire went into effect at sundown on Monday. According to the BBC there was not a single civilian death in the first 15 hours of the ceasefire. Civilians in the war-torn city of Aleppo reported a lack of bombing and general calmness for the first time in years.
More than a dozen Syrian rebel groups have harshly criticized the U.S. and Russian brokered ceasefire. The agreement was reached in the hopes of reducing violence in the area so that aid could be provided to resident civilians. Despite their harsh criticisms the rebel groups have not rejected the ceasefire. UN officials have stated that they are ready and prepared to deliver aid to civilians in the area but need more concrete guarantees of peace. The Syrian government has flat out rejected aid from other countries, such as Turkey, without coordination from the UN.
Syria’s army says it has begun implementing the U.S.-Russian cease-fire, which has come a a relief to the approximate 250,000 civilians still trapped in rebel-held areas. The seven day truce has been somewhat honored. There are reports of “sporadic attacks” from both rebel groups and the Syrian government. The Syrian government has stated they will uphold the ceasefire but also reserves the right to respond to any violation from any of the armed groups.
The sporadic attacks are being treated as minor violations due to the fact that they pale in comparison to the typical warfare that has swept the nation. Approximately 300,000 to 430,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011. The total death toll is unknown due to the UN stopping their official count in 2014 due to a lack of accurate data.