15 Killed in Artillery Fire Against Rebel-Held Suburb of Damascus
Relative calm prevailed across much of Syria today, in the first full day of the new ceasefire negotiated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Isolated violations early after it went into effect were compounded, however, by some fighting and even a few airstrikes and artillery shots against populated areas.
Much of the fighting centered on the northernmost tip of Hama Province, where rebel factions allied with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front reported coming under attack from Syrian military forces. The area borders Nusra’s primary territory, the Idlib Province.
Artillery and airstrikes were reported in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb area of Damascus long-held by rebel forces, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting 15 civilians killed in artillery fire, though they said they were unsure who fired the artillery.
In both cases, the dispute may center around Nusra’s status within the truce, as the Syrian Army has claimed they are excluded from the ceasefire, while rebel officials have insisted the only groups excluded are ISIS and the Kurdish YPG.
Including Nusra is a huge factor in the meaningfulness of the ceasefire, since most of the remaining non-ISIS rebels are at least tangentially allied with them, a fact which has meant most of the rebels ended up fighting some of their fighters targeted in the course of previous ceaesfires.
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