NEWS BRIEF A cease-fire brokered late last week by Russia and the U.S. is set to go into effect in Syria at sundown Monday despite a weekend of intensified fighting and President Bashar al-Assad’s remarks Monday that his forces will “retake every area from the terrorists.”
The 10-day cease-fire, brokered by John Kerry, the American secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, came after hours of talks, and aims to be an important step to end the more than five-year-long conflict that pits Assad’s forces against several opposition groups, ranging in affiliation from secular to Islamist. ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups are also fighting Assad’s forces, but are not covered by the truce hammered out in Geneva last Friday. Under the terms of the deal, Assad’s forces can continue to strike those militants until the U.S. and Russia take over that job next week.
Some of the largest rebel groups, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and the Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist organization, have criticized the deal because, in their view, it favors the government. But the groups have stopped short of saying they won’t abide by the 10-day cease-fire. Periods before truces go into effect typically see increased violence, and so it was in Syria. Government forces, backed by their Russian allies, intensified their bombing of rebel-held positions.