US/Russia-backed Syrian ceasefire to begin at sundown

A country-wide ceasefire in Syria is scheduled to begin at sundown on Monday (approximately 12:00 EST). The United States and Russia both agreed to the parameters of the ceasefire, which call on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cease all combat operations against rebel groups. By doing so, Moscow and Washington hope to map out which areas are held by extremist forces such as the so-called Islamic State, and which are not.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, while announcing the ceasefire on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said the deal could be a turning point for Syrians and could lead to a possible political resolution to a war that has raged for more than five years.

On Monday morning, however, Assad reiterated his determination to reconquer all of Syria, casting doubt that his forces will comply with the ceasefire, the Washington Post reported.

“We as a nation… are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure… We come today here to replace the fake freedom they tried to market at the beginning of the crisis... with real freedom,” Assad said.

Moreover, the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee has not formally declared that it will abide by the ceasefire deal, saying that it trusts neither the Syrian government nor Russia.

The Syrian Kurdish YPG, however, has said it will respect the deal, Reuters reported. In a statement, the YPG said it hopes the agreement will allow US and Russian forces to focus their attacks on extremist groups. The Kurds have been instrumental in the US-led efforts against the so-called Islamic State.

  Syria, Russia, United States