Efforts underway to avoid Syria truce violations: US officials

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)
US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday that Washington is seeking information from Russia on violations of Syria ceasefire.

The United States is taking measures to avoid potential violations of the newly-signed ceasefire in Syria, officials say.

US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday that Washington is aware of possible violations and that it is trying to get information from Russia in this regard.

"There have been reports of violations, however, and we take all such reports extremely seriously," Kirby stated. "With respect to airstrikes in areas where opposition groups taking part in the cessation of hostilities may be active, we are seeking further information, including directly from Russia."

Earlier in the day, the White House said that Washington had expected violations, but added it does not mean that the plan has failed.

"We are aware that there have been some reports of violations," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "That is consistent with our expectations heading in to this process."

The US knew that “we would encounter some potholes on the road to implementing this successfully," he said, adding, "we remain committed to this process."

The ceasefire agreed by the United States and Russia took effect in Syria on February 27 midnight Damascus time.

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

Also, a senior Kurdish official said Sunday that Turkish forces had once again fired shells into Syrian towns controlled by Kurdish forces.

"The first violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2268 has been made by Turkey. Its troops shelled the cities of Tal Abyad and Uslub,” head of the Syrian Kurdish mission to Moscow, Rodi Osman, told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A few days before the implementation of the truce, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), with Takfiri terror groups in Syria, saying if Daesh and al-Nusra are kept outside the truce, “then the PYD-YPG must similarly be excluded from the ceasefire for it is a terrorist group just as they are.”

Ankara regards the YPG and PYD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

The YPG, which is nearly in control of Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been fighting against Daesh.


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