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Syrian army declares 48-hour combat cessation in southern city

The Syrian military has announced the cessation of hostilities in the southern city of Dara’a for 48 hours in support of national reconciliation efforts meant to secure civilian lives and give an opportunity to foreign-sponsored militants to lay down their arms. 

The General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces said in a statement that all combat operations would stop as of Saturday 12 p.m. (0900 GMT) for 48 hours.

Earlier this week, a western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in Beirut that officials from the United States, Russia and Jordan were holding closed-door meetings in Amman to halt the fighting between the militants and government troops in southern Syria.

The diplomat added that the officials were exchanging viewpoints on the boundaries of a ceasefire line between the foreign-backed extremists and Syrian army soldiers, which is projected to yield a comprehensive agreement and outline the control of border crossings with Jordan.

During ceasefire talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana last month, Russia, with backing from Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, brokered a deal for establishing de-escalation zones in Syria’s mainly militant-held areas.

The plan, which came into effect at midnight on May 5, calls for the cessation of hostilities between the militant groups and Syrian government forces.

A car loaded with belongings of a displaced Syrian family drives past destroyed buildings in a militant-held area of the southern city of Dara’a on May 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

It covers the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, northeastern areas of the western coastal province of Latakia, western areas of Aleppo province and northern areas of Hama province.

The deal also applies to the Rastan and Talbiseh enclave in Homs province, Eastern Ghouta district in the northern Damascus countryside as well as the militant-controlled southern part of the country along the border with Jordan.

UN wants to start fresh Syria talks in July

Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Monday that a fresh round of intra-Syrian talks would begin in the Swiss city of Geneva on July 10.    

“(De Mistura) wishes to announce he will convene a seventh round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. The target date for arrival of invitees is July 9, with the round beginning on July 10,” his office said in an emailed statement.

“He intends to convene further rounds of talks in August and in September,” it added.

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