Syrian Ceasefire truce on the brink of collapse

BEIRUT: Syria’s ceasefire was on the brink of collapsing on Sunday, after a US-led coalition strike killed dozens of Syrian soldiers and Aleppo city was hit by its first raids in nearly a week.The barrage of strikes on rebel-held districts of Aleppo risks reigniting battlefronts there and could be the most serious threat to the ceasefire so far.

A halt to fighting around Aleppo and the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid were key components of the fragile deal that took effect last Monday evening.The ceasefire’s co-sponsors, Russia and the United States, have traded accusations over its fraying, with relations strained even further after the US-led raid killed scores of Syrian soldiers on Saturday.

Russia said the situation in Aleppo was “especially tense” on Sunday, blaming the instability on rebels.“The amount of shelling by rebel groups against positions of the Syrian government troops and of residential areas is increasing,” said defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault accused Bashar al-Assad’s government of undermining the ceasefire.“We must not forget that it is first of all the (Syrian) regime, and it is always the regime, which has jeopardised the US-Russian ceasefire,” he said in New York.

Sunday was the deadliest day of the truce so far, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with 10 civilians killed in areas where the ceasefire was set to take hold.The evening strikes on Aleppo killed one woman and wounded others, said the Britain-based monitor, which could not identify who carried them out. A correspondent in Aleppo’s Karam al-Jabal district saw several wounded children after a raid.

Nine people including a child were killed on Sunday when a pair of barrel bombs hit an opposition-held town in the southern province of Daraa, the Observatory said.“Today was the highest death toll since the truce began. Ten were killed today out of 25 civilians killed in total since Monday,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Tensions between the US and Russia were escalating on Sunday after a raid by the American-led coalition killed dozens of Syrian soldiers the previous evening.A senior adviser to Assad said on Sunday that Damascus believed the strike was “intentional”.

“None of the facts on the ground show that what happened was a mistake or a coincidence,” Buthaina Shaaban said.


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