DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 12 (UPI) — A cease-fire — supported by both Russia and the United States — between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime and a consolidated group of Syrian rebels began on Monday.
It is not yet clear whether the cease-fire will last but both sides have assured they would comply — with voiced reservations. The cease-fire was announced on Friday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The cease-fire comes a day after the start of the four-day Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday. Assad held a ceremony in the Saad Ibn Muaz Mosque of the Darayya suburb of Damascus to celebrate the festival, in which he said the Syrian state is determined to retake every area from the terrorists and restore security and safety” — using the term “terrorist” to mean both Syrian rebels and the Islamic State.
Assad said his opposition’s ideology is made up of “false freedom.” In reference to the cease-fire, he suggested rebels who wish to come back to what he considers is the right track will always be welcomed.
“We come here today to replace the false freedom they tried to market at the beginning of the crisis, including about Darayya, with the real freedom; the freedom that starts with restoring security and safety, goes through reconstruction and ends with the independent national decision,” Assad said.
The cease-fire will allow humanitarian aid to reach the millions of Syrians that require help due to the half-decade civil war.
If the cease-fire holds for a week, the United States and Russia will begin steps to combine military operations to eliminate obstacles to peace — including militant groups the Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.
Assad’s regime is accused of committing human rights abuses, including using chemical weapons on civilian populations.