Assad Makes Rare Public Appearance as Truce Starts

7-day ceasefire takes effect in Syria
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2016 12:19 PM CDT
Assad Makes Rare Public Appearance as Truce Starts
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, walks on a street with officials in Daraya, a Damascus suburb.   (SANA via AP)

The latest attempt to bring peace to Syria has officially begun: A ceasefire brokered last week by the US and Russia went into effect Monday morning, reports the BBC. However, this being Syria—whose civil war is a many-sided conflict—it remained unclear just how effective it would be. The Syrian government and its main allies, Russia and Iran, say they will abide by the weeklong truce, but the country's most powerful insurgent groups have not yet said whether they will, reports AP. If the truce holds for a week, the US and Russia would begin intelligence sharing and target coordination against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked militants. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed that his government would take back all its land from "terrorists."

Assad spoke during a rare public appearance that included attending prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, which had surrendered last month and reverted to government control after a four-year siege. "We call on all Syrians to turn toward reconciliation," he said. Italy, meanwhile, says a Syrian cease-fire could pave the way for political negotiations aimed at ending the long and bloody conflict. Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that a cessation of hostilities must happen before talks can begin. CNN has a primer on the truce. (Read more Syria stories.)

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