Truce near Damascus mostly being observed before Syria talks begin

By REUTERS
November 29, 2017 12:40
1 minute read.
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BEIRUT - The Russian-proposed ceasefire in the Eastern Ghouta area of Syria has been widely observed, a war monitor and a witness said on Wednesday, as a delegation from Damascus arrived in Geneva to join peace talks there.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the ceasefire in the besieged rebel-held enclave near Damascus is being "observed in general".

The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday that the Syrian government had accepted the Russian proposal to stop fighting in the area on Nov. 28-29.

The observatory, which monitors the war, reported that the ceasefire had seen insignificant breaches on Wednesday morning in the village of Ain Terma, where Syrian forces fired five shells.

On Tuesday, shelling killed three people and injured 15, but was less intense than in previous days, it added.

"We are in peace today," a witness from the Eastern Ghouta village of Douma told Reuters on a messaging site.

The Syrian delegation arrived in Geneva to participate in the eighth round of United Nation-sponsored peace talks. It delayed its departure for one day after the opposition repeated its demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.

Nasr Hariri, head of the opposition delegation, told a Geneva news conference on Monday night that he is aiming for Assad's removal as a result of negotiations. The government delegation will be headed by Syria's U.N. ambassador and chief negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari, state-run news agency SANA said. A breakthrough in the talks is seen as unlikely as Assad and his allies push for total military victory in Syria's civil war, now in its seventh year, and his opponents stick by their demand he leaves power.

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