Iran Welcomes Syria Deal, Urges Political Solution, Factions Fight on Eve of Agreed Truce

تم نشره في Sun 11 September / Sep 2016. 12:00 AM
  • A rebel fighter looks through binoculars in Quneitra countryside, Syria September 10, 2016. - (REUTERS)

CAPITALS — Iran, a close ally and military backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, welcomed a US-Russian deal for a truce in Syria, saying on Sunday the conflict should be ended through politics.

However, government troops and rebels appeared to be fighting to strengthen their positions in several parts of Syria on the eve of a truce between the government and most rebel groups, aimed at easing the suffering of civilians.

A war monitor reported clashes around Aleppo and Damascus, but pushes by the government in the mountainous northwest and rebels in the southwest indicated an effort to improve their positions before fighting is due to stop on Monday.

The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the 5-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hard-line Islamist groups.

Washington and Moscow reached the breakthrough deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but air strikes hours later on a busy market place that killed and injured dozens added to rebels' doubts that any ceasefire could hold.

Russia and Iran are both providing crucial military support to President Assad against rebels and jihadi fighters in Syria's civil war. Iran has sent what it said were military "advisers" to help Assad and allowed Russian fighter-bombers to use an Iranian base to launch operations in Syria in August.

On Sunday, a rebel official said insurgent factions would later issue a statement guardedly welcoming the ceasefire but expressing concern over what they see as a lack of agreed sanctions on the government if it breaks the deal.

Underscoring the war's global impact, President Bashar aAssad is backed by Russia's air force, Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Shi'ite militias from Iraq and Lebanon while the rebels are supported by the US, Turkey and Gulf Arab states.

Previous peace agreements have crumbled within weeks, with the United States accusing Assad and his allies of attacking opposition groups and civilians. On Saturday, air strikes on rebel-held areas killed scores of people.