A newly brokered ceasefire between the U.S. and Russia in Syria deteriorated in a manner of minutes, according to reports from activists and aid workers in the city of Aleppo.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who said he would comply with the ceasefire, reportedly dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of Aleppo just minutes after the announcement. Regime controlled media also indicated some rebel groups were shelling a road intended for humanitarian aid use in the hours after the ceasefire.
“It’s far too early to draw any definitive conclusions,”said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defending the ceasefire. Despite the early violations, Kerry told reporters and that it may “take a day or two” for the ceasefire to be fully implemented.
Kerry announced the ceasefire deal with his Russian counterpart in Geneva Saturday morning. The agreement stipulates that beginning Monday morning, all parties in Syria will begin a “genuine reduction of violence,” for a period of one week. If the ceasefire holds for a week, then the U.S. will open a joint operations center with Russia meant to target the Islamic State and al-Qaida elements in Syria.
Assad’s rhetoric in the hours before the ceasefire began also calls into doubt his willingness to abide by the agreement. Assad appeared in a symbolic neighborhood Monday and vowed to “retake every inch of Syria.” Assad painted any group who opposed his rule as “terrorists” and said, “After five years, some people still haven’t woken up from their fantasies.”
The largest rebel group in Syria stated unequivocally Sunday it would not cooperate with the ceasefire agreement. A statement from other rebel groups said the ceasefire will “leave room for the regime to take advantage of the situation to achieve military gains that they would have been incapable of achieving before.”
Kerry and Obama’s first ceasefire deal in Syria fell apart after Russia, Syria, and several rebel groups consistently violated the agreement. “We believe the plan, if implemented, if followed, has the ability to provide a turning point, a change,” said Kerry.