Syrian Civil War ceasefires

Several attempts have been made to broker ceasefires in the Syrian Civil War. Two ceasefires have been agreed, both of which have since collapsed. In early February 2016, the formal start of the UN-mediated Geneva Syria peace talks[1] and the opposition′s protestations[2] notwithstanding, the Syrian government carried on with its offensive operations in the Aleppo Governorate[3] amidst speculations that Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia[4] and the UAE,[5] were preparing a military incursion into Syria.[6][7] The Saudi announcement was welcomed by the United States.[8] Responding to the calls for Russia to stop bombing opposition forces in Syria now that the peace talks had started, Sergei Lavrov speaking in Muscat, Oman, said Russia would not stop its air strikes until Russia defeated "such terrorist organisations as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL″; he also stressed the imperative that Syria's border with Turkey be secured to prevent smuggling and the movement of militants.[9][10] Syria′s deputy prime minister Walid Muallem said that any foreign country′s ground intervention in the Syrian territory without the government’s approval would be deemed an act of aggression to be confronted: ″Any aggressor will be sent back to their country in wooden boxes, whether they be Saudis or Turks.″[11][12]

On 11 February, it was confirmed that Kurdish YPG militia fighters based in the town of Afrin, north-west of Aleppo, had taken a series of towns, including Deir Jamal and al-Qamiya, as well as a former Menagh Airbase near the border with Turkey, previously taken by rebels.[13] In retaliation, on 13 February Turkey began a sustained campaign of shelling the YPG positions in the area of Azaz from its territory.[14][15][16]

Partial ceasefire (26 February–July 2016)

Following talks in Munich, the world powers in the International Syria Support Group negotiated a ceasefire between the main parties to the war.[17] On 22 February 2016 the United States and Russia announced the Terms for a Cessation of Hostilities in Syria, pledging "that the cessation of hostilities will be monitored in an impartial and transparent manner and with broad media coverage." [18] On 26 February 2016, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2268 that demanded all parties to comply with the terms[19] of a U.S.-Russian deal on a "cessation of hostilities".[20] The cease-fire started on 27 February 2016 at 00:00 (Damascus time).[21] The ceasefire does not include attacks on UN-designated terrorist organizations.[22][23] At the close of February 2016, despite individual clashes, the truce was reported to hold.[24]

On 14 March 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would be pulling out the "main part" of its military in Syria.[25] Putin also said that Russia's Khmeimim airbase will be kept to control the ceasefire agreements and that its port at Tartus would continue to operate as normal.[26]

According to Western sources, Iran has kept only 700 IRGC advisors in Syria after the ceasefire, but this has not been confirmed. In mid-March, the Ground Forces of Islamic Republic of Iran Army indicated it would send Army commandos and snipers as military advisers to Syria and Iraq, the first formal acknowledgement by Iran of deployment of regular Iranian Army (as opposed to IRGC) forces outside Iran since the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s.[27][28]

Syrian government with support from Russian and Iranian forces successfully captured Palmyra from the ISIL by the end of March 2016.[29]

FSA and allied Islamist groups captured al-Ra'i from ISIS on April 8. The capture of the town secured an important supply line for the rebels from Turkey near whose border the town is located.[30] ISIS recaptured the town along with six villages on April 11.[31]

By July 2016, this ceasefire had mostly unraveled and violence again escalated.[32]

Second ceasefire (12th September – 20th September)

On 10 September 2016, Russia and U.S. reached a deal on establishing a cease fire between the Syrian Assad government and a US-supported coalition of so-called 'mainstream Syrian opposition rebel groups'.[33]

This ceasefire was backed by the United States and Russia, with the understanding that – if it held for one week – Russia and the United States could begin to plan a joint mission against ISIS and al-Nusra.[17][34] A notable loophole in the ceasefire meant that it did not apply to attacks against "terrorist targets" – the Russian government has used claims that it was targeting terrorist elements to justify airstrikes against rebel-held areas.[17] The ceasefire went into effect on 12 September, but was poorly adhered to, with the Syrian government continuing bombing and UN humanitarian aid delayed by security concerns and the danger to convoys.[35][34]

The ceasefire suffered a further set-back when a US-British airstrike aimed at ISIS instead killed 60 Syrian government soldiers, and was formally declared over by the Syrian government after an airstrike by Syrian or Russian forces hit a Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse, killing 14 people and destroying 18 truckloads of food.[34][36]



  1. "U.N. announces start of Syria peace talks as government troops advance". Reuters. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  2. "Syrian offensive blamed for putting peace talks at risk". Aljazeera. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  3. "Syrian army threatens to encircle Aleppo as talks falter". Reuters. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  4. Schreck, Adam; Karam, Zeina (8 February 2016). "Saudi offer to send troops to Syria comes with uncertainty". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  5. Harb, Malak (7 February 2016). "UAE says it's prepared to send ground forces to Syria". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  6. "Russia says it suspects Turkey of preparing incursion in Syria". Reuters. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  7. "Turkey isn't preparing to invade Syria, source says". CNN. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  8. "Saudi Arabia willing to send ground troops to Syria". Al Jazeera English. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  9. "Lavrov: Russia won't stop Syria strikes until 'terrorists' defeated". Reuters. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  10. Лавров назвал условия прекращения операции РФ в Сирии NEWSru, 3 Feb 2016.
  11. Update 1-Al-Moallem: Any intervention is an act of aggression, Syria will not comply with any precondition Sana, 6 Feb 2016.
  12. As Syria rebels face rout, allies Saudi, Turkey may send troops AFP, 6 Feb 2016.
  13. "Kurdish forces said to take air base near Turkish border". Reuters. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  14. "Turkish PM confirms shelling of Kurdish forces in Syria". the Guardian.
  15. Staff writer(s) (14 February 2016). "Turkey shells northern Syria for second day: monitor". Reuters. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  16. "Turkey shells Kurdish positions in Syria for second day". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  17. 1 2 3 "Syria war pause plan agreed by world powers". BBC. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  18. "Joint Statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, as Co-Chairs of the ISSG, on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  19. "Joint Statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, as Co-Chairs of the ISSG, on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria". U.S. Department of State. 22 February 2016.
  20. "Temporary truce comes into effect". BBC News. 26 February 2016.
  21. "U.N. demands Syria parties halt fighting, peace talks set for March 7". Reuters. 26 February 2016.
  22. A Potential Cease-Fire in Syria. The Atlantic. Published 22 February 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  23. Landmark Syria ceasefire begins, with terrorist groups excluded. Published 27 February 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  24. "Syria conflict: UN steps up aid deliveries as truce holds". BBC. 29 February 2016.
  25. "Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria, says 'objectives achieved'". RT. 14 March 2016.
  26. "Syria conflict: Russia's Putin orders 'main part' of forces out". BBC. 14 March 2016.
  27. Commander: Iran to Send Commandos, Snipers to Iraq, Syria Fars News Agency, 16 March 2016.
  28. Toumaj, Amir. "Iran deploys Army Special Forces to Syria and Iraq". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  29. "Syrian army, with Russian air support, advances inside Palmyra". Reuters. 26 March 2016.
  30. "Syria war: Rebels take key northern town of al-Rai from IS".
  31. "Syria conflict:IS retakes northern town of al-Rai from rebels".
  32. "Syrian army, rebels agree to 72-hour Eid truce, but fighting continues". Reuters. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  33. 'Syria's civil war: US and Russia clinch ceasefire deal'. Al Jazeera, 11 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  34. 1 2 3 "Syria timeline: How the fragile week-long ceasefire fell apart". Sky News. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  35. Yara Bayoumy and John Irish (19 September 2016). "Syrian opposition figure says ceasefire never took hold". Reuters. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  36. Julian Borger (20 September 2016). "US blames Russia after UN aid convoy in Syria targeted by air attack". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
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