Will the Ceasefire in Syria Hold?

A ceasefire has come into effect in Syria after five years of bloodshed. The ceasefire agreement has been hailed as a victory for diplomacy between Moscow and Washington. The Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the deal as a real step towards halting the bloodshed in the region. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also welcomed the agreement as a long awaited signal of hope. The US Special Envoy to Syria Micheal Ratney stated that the accord could allow a quick resumption of negotiations resulting in a political process to end the conflict in Syria. President Assad voiced similar thoughts but added concerns about how the agreement could be misused by terrorists to advance their ambitions in Syria.

The war in Syria has resulted in an estimated 470,000 deaths, 9 million injured and the biggest migrant crisis since World War II. The conflict in Syria has been a proxy between the US-led western alliance and Russia. Regionally, the Sunni side supports the rebels and the Shia side President Assad.

The joint communiqué issued by Russia and the US on February 26, 2016, remains thin on pinpointing the terrorist groups in Syria while the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat-ul-Nusra are out of the ceasefire. The cessation of the hostilities does not apply to the Islamic State, Jabhat-ul-Nusra and other organizations designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Also, all participants of the agreement are required to deploy proportional amount of force in self defense against the groups not party to the agreement of the ceasefire.

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