Guns fall silent in Syria

Guns have fallen silent across Syria after a cessation of hostilities backed by the United Nations came into effect.

On the stroke of midnight (2200 GMT), firing stopped in suburbs around the capital Damascus and the devastated northern city of Aleppo.

Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said it was quiet in the north of Latakia province and in the central provinces of Homs and Hama.

It is the first major cessation of hostilities since 2011 when the civil war that has claimed more than 270,000 lives began.

Under the agreement, Syria’s government and its enemies are expected to cease fighting so aid can reach civilians and peace talks can resume.

The truce came after Moscow was accused of bombing civilian positions near Damascus on Thursday night.

A spokesman for President Putin dismissed the claim as “unconfirmed information that isn’t backed up by facts”.

The UN Security Council has given its unanimous backing to the ceasefire in a resolution drafted by the US and Russia.

It called on all the parties concerned to observe the terms of the agreement and “fulfil their commitments”.

US Ambassador Samantha Power acknowledged there was “some scepticism” as to whether the truce would last, but said it offered the “best chance to reduce the violence”.

Dozens of Syria’s opposition and rebel groups said they would abide by the deal.

Mr Putin reiterated at a meeting on Friday that his forces would continue attacking Islamic State and the al Nusra Front, who are not included in the ceasefire.

The Syrian regime has said it will abide by the truce but retains the right to retaliate for any attacks.

A previous agreement was due to come in to force last Friday but appeared not to have been observed by some groups.

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