Nearly 100 Syrian rebel factions agree to respect two-week truce

(From agencies)

Nearly 100 rebel factions in Syria agreed to abide by a Russian-US ceasefire for two weeks, hours before it was due to come into force, the country’s top opposition grouping said.

Heavy air strikes were reported in rebel-held areas near Damascus ahead of the ceasefire

Heavy air strikes were reported in rebel-held areas near Damascus hours before the ceasefire

“Factions of the Free Syrian Army and the armed opposition agree to respect a temporary truce… for two weeks,” the High Negotiations Committee said in a statement, referring to “97 factions from the opposition”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged no let-up in Moscow’s bombing campaign against Islamic State  (IS) jihadists, the Al-Nusra Front and other “terrorist groups” in Syria after a ceasefire comes into force.

“I want to underline again that Islamic State, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups that have been designated as such by the United Nations Security Council are not included (in the ceasefire deal),” Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency, adding that “the decisive fight against them will, without doubt, be continued.”

US President Barack Obama said while the two-week ceasefire will bring hope for ending ‘proxy war’ in Syria, there will be no truce with IS.
We don’t expect the violence to end immediately,” Obama added.
In the meantime, heavy air strikes were reported to have hit rebel-held areas near Damascus as fighting raged across much of western Syria, hours before a ceasefire was due to take effect.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring organization reported at least 26 air raids and artillery shelling targeting the town of Douma in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

Rescue workers in the opposition-held area said five people were killed in Douma, listing their names on their Twitter feed. Syrian military officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Damascus has made clear it will continue to target Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front which are not included in the agreement on the air strikes.

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