Syria’s military declares week-long ceasefire over
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Syria’s military declares week-long ceasefire over

Moscow and Damascus blame rebels for undermining truce agreement. while France holds Assad responsible for violations

Syrians walk and drive past destroyed buildings in the government held Jouret al-Shiah neighbourhood of the central Syrian city of Homs on September 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)
Syrians walk and drive past destroyed buildings in the government held Jouret al-Shiah neighbourhood of the central Syrian city of Homs on September 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)

Syria’s armed forces on Monday announced an end to a week-long ceasefire in the war-torn country brokered by the United States and Russia, blaming opposition groups battling to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad for its failure.

“Syria’s army announces the end of the freeze on fighting that began at 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) on September 12, 2016 in accordance with the US-Russia agreement,” the statement carried by state news agency SANA said.

It said rebel groups “did not commit to a single element” of the deal.

After months of negotiations, the United States and Russia agreed on September 9 to call for a ceasefire, the delivery of aid and the joint targeting of Islamist rebels in Syria.

The ceasefire ran into trouble at the weekend when rebel-held districts of Aleppo came under a barrage of air strikes and the US-led coalition killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in an attack that Washington said was unintentional.

In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo provided by Modar Shekho, activists in Syria's besieged Aleppo protest against the United Nations for what they say is its failure to lift the siege off their rebel-held area, in Aleppo, Syria. (Modar Shekho via AP, File)
In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo provided by Modar Shekho, activists in Syria’s besieged Aleppo protest against the United Nations for what they say is its failure to lift the siege off their rebel-held area, in Aleppo, Syria. (Modar Shekho via AP, File)

Russia’s defense ministry had appeared to bury the week-old truce it agreed with the United States, saying rebel violations made it “pointless” for Syrian troops to uphold it.

The end of the ceasefire came shortly after the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that the US-Russian ceasefire remains the “only basis” for achieving a political settlement of the conflict.

“The agreement is particularly fragile — these past hours have shown this — but it must retain a glimmer of hope. It is the only basis that the international community can draw on” to resolve the Syrian crisis, he said.

“What is lacking in this instance is good faith and sincerity,” Ayrault told a news conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

The French foreign minister reiterated that President Bashar Assad’s regime was to blame for ceasefire violations.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gives a joint press during a foreign affairs ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 19, 2016. (AFP/JOHN THYS)
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gives a joint press during a foreign affairs ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 19, 2016. (AFP/JOHN THYS)

“We should not have a short memory, the reality is, without a doubt, that the regime is mainly responsible for the tragedy in Syria”, he said.

Ayrault put forward a French proposal to set up a monitoring mechanism of the ceasefire and said all sides must unite to shore up the US-Russian deal.

More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, now in its sixth year, with more than 13 million people driven from their homes.

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