A ceasefire has began in Syria, with the intention of ending the five-year long civil war that has killed over a quarter of a million Syrians and forced five million more to flee, creating a refugee crisis in Europe.
It was agreed on Friday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It aims to stop the fighting and moving towards a political transition.
“After the ceasefire regime will be in effect for seven days, we will establish an implementation centre, in which the military and the representatives of Russian and US intelligence will handle practical issues, separating terrorists and opposition,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Kerry in Geneva on Friday.
The ceasefire is initially to last seven days to give the UN convoys time to bring aid into the country. The agreement is between the US and Russia and the Syrian government has agreed to stop bombing civilian areas, the UK Independent reports.
Aid is expected to reach between 250,000 and 275,000 people in East Aleppo.
As long as the truce holds, the US and Russia will form an unprecedented military partnership that will control airstrikes targeting Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the former Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda that has relabelled itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
Media reports that most of the participants in the war say they will respect the ceasefire, though armed groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad said they did not think al-Nusra should be singled out as a target for air strikes. However, Isis is excluded from the ceasefire.
The President has been relying on Russia for air support and weapons during the civil war. The ceasefire means The Syrian Army will be freed up to attack Isis, which still holds large areas of territory in eastern Syria, the Independent reports.
There are some 592,000 Syrians besieged or blockaded, most of them in opposition areas, though 110,000 are trapped by Isis in the eastern provincial capital of Deir Ezzor.
However, Aljazeera.com reports there are concerns whether the ceasefire will hold.
Several hours into the ceasefire, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet, but there had been light shelling by both rebel groups and government forces in the country's southwest.
Al Jazeera reports that hours after the truce went into effect, more than a dozen rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alliance, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, put out a statement that criticised the agreement, calling it "unjust", but stopped short of fully rejecting it.
AFP reports the rebels wrote they would "deal positively with the idea of the ceasefire," but did not explicitly back it.