Status of Nusra Front Remains Main Ceasefire Dispute
Five days in, Syria’s ceasefire, brokered by Turkey, Russia, and Iran, continues to hold across most of the nation. Rebels continue to grouse, however, as the status of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front remains a bone of contention surrounding the terms of the ceasefire, and fighting in Nusra territory is being presented as a violation by other rebel groups.
Heavy fighting was reported in Eastern Ghouta as well as the Barada Valley, with rebels once again arguing that this amounted to “major and frequent violations” of the ceasefire on the part of the government. The government has insisted all along that Nusra is not a party to the ceasefire.
The exact truth is a bit nebulous, as the ceasefire excluded groups which the UN recognizes as terrorist organizations. The UN does recognize Nusra as a terrorist organization, which is the source of the government argument, while the rebels argue that since Nusra changed their name the UN never updated the list to include the new name, so they technically aren’t on the list anymore.
So far, the rebels are using this dispute as an excuse not to discuss planned peace talks in Kazakhstan, which are to be scheduled for mid-January, but so far they are not withdrawing from the ceasefire outright either. Indeed, the ceasefire does seem to be holding well across much of the country and if nothing else has brought locals some calm in much of the country.
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