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New fighting erupts in Syria after cease-fire deal

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Syrian government embarked on a wave of intense airstrikes against opposition-controlled areas on Saturday, killing scores of people only hours after the announcement of a new cease-fire deal between Russia and the United States.

The attacks, which killed more than 80 people in the rebel-held cities of Idlib and Aleppo, compounded skepticism expressed by the opposition that this deal will work where others have failed to end the war.

The agreement was announced early Saturday in Geneva by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after months of haggling over details. It was hailed by the two leaders as a breakthrough in the quest to bring about a negotiated settlement to the 5-year-old war.

The deal goes further than a more limited one that collapsed this year because it places U.S.-Russian military cooperation in the fight against terrorism at the center of the effort to end Syria's war.

If implemented in accordance with the vision outlined by Kerry at an overnight news conference with Lavrov in Geneva, the agreement will transform the battlefield and bring about much-needed relief from the relentless suffering.

Civilians will be protected from airstrikes, desperate communities will receive all the food and medicine they need, Russia and the United States will work together to vanquish terrorists, and new negotiations will begin to secure an eventual end to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime.

The Syrian opposition said it would have to closely study the details of the deal before reaching a decision on whether to abide by it. The Syrian government had no immediate comment, though Kerry and Lavrov said that Russia had consulted Damascus and that Assad had given his assent.

Meanwhile, battles erupted across Syria as both sides took advantage of what may be the last opportunity to kill opponents and grab territory ahead of the implementation of the cease-fire, due to begin Monday.

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