Vast majority of Syria armed groups join truce
The cessation of hostilities will begin at midnight
The “vast majority” of armed groups eligible to take part in a cessation of hostilities in Syria have signaled that they will do so, a source close to the peace talks told Reuters on Friday.
It was unclear if any groups had refused to sign up. Under the terms of the deal, armed groups had to confirm their commitment to the United States or Russia no later than 1200 Damascus time (1000 GMT).
The cessation of hostilities will begin at midnight.
But hours before the agreement was set to take place, Syria’s branch of al Qaeda, one of its most powerful Islamist rebel groups, called for an escalation in fighting against the government and its allies.
Al-Nusra Front’s leader, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, said in an audio message on Orient News TV on Friday that insurgents should “strengthen your resolve and intensify your strikes, and do not let their planes and great numbers (of troops) scare you.”
Unlike ISIS, which controls defined areas of territory in central and eastern Syria, the Nusra Front is widely dispersed in opposition-held areas in the west, and any escalation would add to the risks of the truce collapsing.
Nusra is bigger than nearly all the factions taking part in the cessation, with fighters across western Syria.
The truce does not apply to militant groups such as ISIS and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and the Damascus government and its Russian allies say they will not halt combat against those militants. Other rebels seen as moderates by the West say they fear this will be used to justify attacks on them.
Syria ceasefire agreement comes into effectThe U.N. Security Council voted Friday on a US-Russian draft resolution endorsing the Syria ceasefire agreement Middle East
Syria’s need for humanitarian help risesSyria’s crisis that began in March 2011 has killed at least 250,000 people, wounded a million and displaced half the country’s population Features
Turkish newspaper expects release of editorsThey were detained after the publication of video footage purporting to show the state intelligence agency helping to send weapons to Syria Print
U.S. sees capture of Syria town key to destroying ISISFor months, the town of al-Shadadi, a key logistics hub for the group Middle East
UN eyes new round of Syria talksWhen ceasefire expected to take place Friday, the UN will announce date for new round of Syria talks Middle East
Video: Hezbollah hushes toll of fighters killed over four yearsWashington Institute for Near East Studies published a report that said 865 members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militias were killed in Syria Middle East
Saudi jets to arrive in Turkey to strike ISISSaudi Arabia and Turkey both see the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as essential for ending Syria’s five-year civil war Middle East
Syrians suffer as anti-terror laws squeeze charitiesWhile acknowledging the need for tougher laws, NGOs surveyed said operating in extremist-run areas in Syria made them vulnerable Features