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Ban says Syria truce largely holding despite some incidents

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (AFP photo)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the Syrian ceasefire is largely holding although some incidents were recorded over the weekend.

"As of now I can tell you that by and large the cessation of hostilities is holding even though we have experienced some incidents," Ban told reporters on Monday after meeting with his envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Ban noted the UN-backed task force that monitors the ceasefire and member states of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) "are now trying to make sure that this does not spread any further and that this cessation of hostilities can continue."

The ceasefire agreed by the United States and Russia took effect in Syria on February 27 midnight Damascus time. The Syrian government also accepted the terms of the truce on condition that military efforts against Daesh and the al-Nusra Front militants, who are not included in the ceasefire agreement, continue.

According to a statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry, the country's military, however, reserves the right to "respond to any breach by these groups against Syrian citizens or against its armed forces."

Syrians drive past government billboards in the capital, Damascus, on February 27, 2016, as the first major ceasefire of the five-year war takes hold. (AFP photo)

On Saturday, Daesh Takfiri militants fired shells into residential neighborhoods in Damascus only hours after the ceasefire came into effect.

The Russian coordination center in Syria said the following day that it registered at least nine violations, including shelling in the northern province of Latakia.

The task force is expected to meet in Geneva later on Monday at the request of France over a number of attacks that breached the truce.

Also on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow and Washington had stressed from the beginning that “the way to a holding ceasefire would not be easy."

"But at the same time it is crucial that this (ceasefire) agreement was reached. The process is underway,” Peskov added.

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

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