An al-Qaeda-allied terrorist group in Syria said it won’t respect a ceasefire due to start Monday, putting in jeopardy a Russian and US plan meant to ease the country’s humanitarian crisis and pave the way to peace talks.
Ahrar Al Sham “is not bound by the truce and won’t abide by it” because that would benefit the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, spokesman Abu Yousef Al-Muhajir said in comments posted Sunday on an opposition website, Enab Baladi.
The group signed on to an earlier ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US in February, though it didn’t take part in peace negotiations in Geneva that collapsed under resurgent violence.
The latest US-Russian agreement, unveiled Friday after marathon talks in the Swiss city, reflects only those two countries’ intentions, the spokesman said, Bloomberg reported.
The Syrian government said it would accept the truce agreement and cease hostilities in the besieged northern city of Aleppo for “humanitarian reasons,” the state-run SANA news service said on Saturday. That didn’t ease the violence, however, and that same day, warplanes bombed rebel-held areas in Aleppo and elsewhere, killing more than 100 people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through activists on the ground.
Under the deal, if the ceasefire holds for seven days, Russia and the US will coordinate military strikes against the al-Qaeda wing in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front. The US also committed to severing the ties between the al-Qaeda fighters and American-backed rebels fighting Assad.