EghtesadOnline: The UN welcomes "a significant drop in violence" in Syria, as the ceasefire in the country appears to be holding.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy to Syria, says he hopes that aid deliveries to stricken areas will take place “very soon”.
Although there have been reports of sporadic and geographically-isolated incidents, de Mistura was upbeat about the prospects for peace, RT reported.
“Sources on the ground, which do matter, including inside Aleppo city, said the situation has dramatically improved with no airstrikes,” he said, before cautioning that only 24 hours of relative calm had passed.
He added that UN aid convoys had yet to enter Syria, but was hopeful that the truce would continue and “(aid) access should be taking place very, very soon.” He mentioned that this would mean that the people of Syria can look forward to “no bombs and more trucks”.
Senior US General Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters gathered at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the US was now looking into the prospect of setting up a “joint integration center with the Russians” in order to aid the fight against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
"One thing we can say with confidence is there has been a significant drop in the level of violence–not to zero, obviously, and we would like to see even a greater drop in the days to come,” he said, as cited by Voice of America.
He added that if the ceasefire holds for seven days, then both parties can look into establishing the joint center.
The Russian military said the Syrian government is sticking to the ceasefire agreement, while there were 23 violations recorded on Monday by the so-called moderate militants in Syria who have Washington’s backing.
“Syrian government forces have completely stopped [their] shelling, except for the areas occupied by IS and Jabhat al-Nusra militants. Unfortunately, that can’t be said about the armed forces of the moderate opposition, backed by the United States,” he said.
Colonel Sergey Kopytsin from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said on Tuesday six people died on Monday night following the shelling of Aleppo by the moderate opposition forces, with 10 others receiving injuries.
“Five violations of the cessation of hostilities by the ‘moderate opposition’ in the city of Aleppo, which killed six and injured 10 people, were registered overnight following the introduction of the ceasefire,” Kopytsin said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday sought to diffuse domestic criticism of the ceasefire agreement arguing that without it violence would increase significantly with many more Syrians slaughtered or forced to flee the war-torn country.
The deal struck between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday agreed to a seven-day period of reduced violence and increased humanitarian aid deliveries, reports Financial Tribune.
"It's a last chance to be able to hold Syria together," Kerry said in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition. "If you fail to get a cessation in place now and we cannot get to the table, then the fighting is going to increase significantly."
He added: "What's the alternative? The alternative is to allow us to go from 450,000 people who have been slaughtered to how many thousands more? That Aleppo gets completely overrun? That the Russians and Assad simply bomb indiscriminately for days to come and we sit there and do nothing?"
The five-year war has killed an estimated 430,000 people since the start of the conflict, with roughly 11 million people made homeless in the world's worst refugee crisis.
Senior US military and intelligence have criticized the plan saying Russia cannot be trusted. The plan envisions the US military sharing targeting information for strikes against militants with Russian forces.
Kerry said the agreement had the support of US President Barack Obama, with whom he met on Tuesday.
"Well, the president of the United States is ready and I think the military therefore will be ready," he said.