Syrian Opposition Accepts Ceasefire Deal With ‘Reservations’

Main political opposition says FSA will deal "positively" with truce but stressed rebel groups have the right to defend Syrians and the revolution against regime aggression

The Syrian National Coalition announced on Monday evening that the Free Syrian Army and revolutionary factions would “deal positively” with the ceasefire agreement, which was signed by Moscow and Washington and went into force earlier this week.

However, the coalition accompanied its position on the truce with registering reservations about it, issuing two demands and emphasizing an exemption.

About an hour after the ceasefire deal went into effect at 19:00 at Syrian local time (16:00 GMT) on Monday, the coalition issued a statement saying that “The Free Syrian Army and revolutionary factions will deal positively with the truce,” expressing that “any trustworthy international effort which leads to a reduction of the suffering of our people and an end of the bombardment, killing and destruction which are being carried out by Russian and regime warplanes and Iranian terrorist militias and leads to bringing in aid into besieged areas is a positive step in the right direction.”

The coalition also stressed “a positive effort to make the truce successful and the adherence that requires providing full protection to Syrian civilians against any attack or aggression carried out by Russia, Iran or the regime, and the casualties and human and material losses that causes.”

With that the coalition registered an exception to the adherence of the rebel groups to the truce, when it said that they “had the right to defend the people and the revolution if the regime and its allies and Iranian militias carry out any air or land assault or any attempt to occupy territory or attempt to impose a siege or forcibly displace residents. This will be considered a hostile act contradicting the agreement and the truce requiring a response according to what is decided by the military leadership of the FSA.”

The coalition expressed its reservations about the “lack of agreement for clear and specific punishments for the regime if it violates the truce or obstructs aid.” It warned that this “will be an incentive to the regime and its allies and their terrorist militias to continue their previous violations and derail the new effort, as with what happened with the February 2016 truce, when Russia protected the regime from any deterrent penalties.”

The coalition also presented in its statement two demands to the forces which stood behind the reaching of the agreement. The first was “the need to provide clear monitoring mechanisms to establish violations and the parties that carried them out, with the aim of guaranteeing the success of the deal. This should be with the monitoring of neutral parties that do not include Russia because it cannot be considered a trustworthy party.”

The second demand was “humanitarian food and medical aid to the besieged cities and districts, such as Aleppo and the Waer district of Homs and Moadhamiya and Madaya and the eastern Ghouta, without any restrictions or intervention from the regime or its terrorist militias. This needs to be the introduction to fully ending the siege, given the war crimes in violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights charters.”

Regarding the Islamic State group, the statement said that “direct and indirect support which the group has received from the regime and the current cooperation between them is a serious threat to Syrians, regional countries and the international community. Revolutionary factions have fought the group since it was established in 2013. Therefore eliminating them requires an end to the regime which has created a natural incubator for terrorism of all kinds, and liberating Syria from the authority of crime and oppression.”

The pro-Kremlin Russia Today website confirmed the entry of “the truce which was agreed by Russia and America in Syria into effect on Monday evening after it was agreed to by most parties to the conflict amid international welcome.”

The Assad regime’s SANA website meanwhile quoted a statement by the Syrian army in which it said “calm will be implemented on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of seven days, from 19:00 on 9/12/2016 until 23:59 on 9/18/2016, while reserving the categorical right to respond by using all means of firepower to any violation from the armed groups.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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