Hours after a Syrian ceasefire took affect, there are no signs of violence, for now. CCTV America’s Frances Kuo reports from Washington, D.C.
Syria cease-fire brings relative quiet to region so farHours after a Syrian ceasefire took affect, there are no signs of violence, for now. CCTV America's Frances Kuo reports from Washington, D.C.
Syrian business owners and residents expressed their hope that the truce that came into effect at midnight on Friday will be respected by all sides.
The ceasefire aims at reducing violence in the war-torn nation with the hope of bringing back representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva for talks on a political transition.
If the cessation of hostilities holds, it would be the first time international negotiations have brought any degree of quiet in Syria’s five-year civil war.
The Syrian government and the opposition, including nearly 100 rebel groups, have said they will abide by the ceasefire despite serious scepticism about chances for success, as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, are excluded from the deal.
In his weekly address, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed some of the challenges of the deal.
“Much will depend on whether the Syrian regime, Russia and their allies live up to their commitments. The coming hours and days will be critical, and the world is watching,” Obama said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers recently that Syria could get a “lot uglier” and said the U.S. could move toward a “Plan B”.
“The alternative is that the war gets worse, that Syria might be totally destroyed, not be able to be put back together again,” Kerry said.
Kerry has not given any specifics of what a Plan B could look like, but one option is a partition of Syria, carving out a section outside the control of Assad’s government.
Moscow has long rejected the idea of ousting Assad, saying it should be left to the Syrian people to decide on any political transition. Other options may include stepping up U.S. special forces on the ground to support moderate opposition forces, or a no-fly zone to protect those displaced. All these possibilities were rejected recently by Moscow.
“Of course there should not be other ambiguous talks in the U.S-led coalition of some kind of a B-plan of preparations for a ground operation, of the creation of some buffer zones with closed air space that have long ago been acknowledged as absolutely unacceptable,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Whether any Plan B will take effect will depend on whether this ceasefire continues to hold and how the parliamentary elections will take shape on April 13. Kerry has warned if Assad is not serious about a real transitional government process, the U.S. would consider those Plan B options.
As solutions are discussed, a recent report has found that the war has so far killed 470,000 people.
Story compiled with information from CCTV America and the Associated Press.
Majid Rafizadeh of Harvard discusses the temporary truce in Syria
CCTV America’s Susan Roberts interviewed Majid Rafizadeh, president of the International American Council and a scholar at Harvard University about the effectiveness of the Syrian cease fire.