Syria’s opposition places conditions on acceptance of ceasefire

Syria's main opposition grouping on Monday said it accepted a ceasefire deal announced by the United States and Russia if humanitarian "conditions" were met.

The Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee said in a statement that it "agreed to respond positively to international efforts to reach a truce deal".

But its "commitment to the truce is conditional" on the lifting of sieges, release of prisoners, a halt to bombardment of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The United States and Russia had earlier said that a cessation of hostilities in Syria will go into effect this Saturday on February 27, after a previous attempt for a ceasefire last Friday failed miserably.

In a joint statement, the two countries said Saturday's partial truce would begin at midnight Damascus time and would apply to parties to the conflict that have committed to the deal – but not to the Islamic State (ISIS) group or the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault responded to the initiative and said his government would be "very vigilant". 

"An agreement has been reached. We are examining the details. There is an urgent need for its implementation. We will be very vigilant over its implementation in good faith by all the sides," Ayrault, who is visiting Kiev, said in a statement to AFP.

"France has constantly called for an end to the bombardments — first to prevent further massacres of civilians, then to allow for the access of humanitarian aid, and finally because it is a necessary condition for the resumptions of negotiations on a political transition," he added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lost no time on Monday welcoming the agreement as a "long-awaited signal of hope" and urged all sides to abide by it.

The agreement comes on the heels of another deal announced by top diplomats in Munich earlier this month, which was to go into effect last Friday.

The deadline of that ceasefire came and went with no end to the bloodshed in Syria.

Monday's new ceasefire agreement also comes in the wake of the deadliest bombing spree in the history of the Syrian civil war that has been raging since 2011 and left over 260,000 dead. 

In the wave of attacks on Sunday a string of suicide bomb attacks hit near a Shi'ite shrine south of Damascus, killing 120 people in total.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208415

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