Syria ceasefire is ‘largely holding’ but with violations

The US- and Russian-sponsored ceasefire began February 27

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The two-week-old cessation of hostilities in Syria is “largely holding,” albeit with continued violations that include government attacks on civilians and opposition forces, the United States said Friday.

“The cessation of hostilities has produced a dramatic reduction in violence in Syria and permitted humanitarian access to begin in some besieged areas,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby in a statement.

However, Kirby also sounded a note of caution and said that the conflict, in which more than 270,000 people have been killed since it broke out in March 2011, had reached “a critical moment.”

“Despite the reduction in violence nationwide, we remain deeply concerned by continued specific violations to the cessation of hostilities, including attacks on civilians and opposition forces by the regime and its supporters.”

He called on all parties to seize the moment, adding: “We should not squander it through neglect or wilful negligence.”

The US- and Russian-sponsored ceasefire began February 27.

The UN is hoping to restart peace talks that collapsed last month, building on the ceasefire that has led to the first significant decline in violence in Syria's nearly five-year civil war.

A new round of talks aimed at ending the war in Syria will begin in Geneva on March 14 and will last no longer than 10 days, the UN mediator has said.

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