Damascus residents weary of reports on provisional truce

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Residents of the Syrian capital expressed skepticism on Monday about reports that a "provisional agreement" has been reached for a truce, a day after a wave of Islamic State bombings killed about 130 people in government-held areas near Damascus and beyond.

See Full Article

Details of the tentative cease-fire, announced in Jordan on Sunday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, have not been made public. Even if a truce were to take hold, the Islamic State is not party to any such cease-fires or negotiations for a truce.

Sunday's blasts that ripped through the Sayyida Zeinab suburb of Damascus and the central city of Homs were among the deadliest bombings in government-held areas in Syria's devastating five-year civil war.

The Islamic State group claimed both attacks. The extremists are dug in on the outskirts of the two cities and have repeatedly targeted pro-government strongholds.

The mood in government-controlled Damascus was subdued on Monday. Inside the Hamidiyeh Souk, a popular bazaar which is typically crowded with shoppers on any given day, people said they were worried that a ceasefire would not be evenly observed and could leave the Syrian authorities vulnerable.

"I hope there will be no ceasefire. Because if there is a ceasefire, Turks will increase their support for criminals and traitors," said Ahmad Al-Omar from the northern Aleppo province, adding that Turkey may seek to let opposition fighters in via its border with Syria.

Others at the bazaar echoed President Bashar Assad's statements that a ceasefire could give an advantage to rebel forces and also the Islamic State group.

"I believe that those proposals now are ... a pretext to stop the advance of the Syrian army which is trying to liberate the homeland," said Ahmad Al-Issa.

Sunday's blasts came as Kerry announced that a "provisional agreement" has been reached on a cessation of hostilities that could begin in the next few days. But he acknowledged that it's not finalized and all parties might not automatically comply.

Kerry declined to go into the details of the agreement, saying it "is not yet done."

"The modalities for a cessation of hostilities are now being completed," Kerry said, adding that it was "possible over the course of these next hours."

The Damascus authorities said the government was ready to take part in a truce as long as it is not used by militants to reinforce their positions. Syrian troops, backed by Russian warplanes are on a major offensive in the northern Aleppo province, trying to seal the border with Turkey, a key supporter of the rebels, before any truce is reached.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government's supply route to the city of Aleppo was cut by heavy fighting Monday as the army, supported by allied militias and the Russian air force, fought to consolidate its recent gains in the northern province.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of contacts to monitor the war, said Islamic militias assaulted government-held positions around Khanaser, a town southeast of Aleppo, setting off intense clashes that have lasted through the day. Khanaser lies along the government's only access route to Aleppo.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and one-time commercial centre, is divided between the government and its opponents, while IS holds a wide front to the east of the city.

Fighting has been fierce in Aleppo province in recent weeks amid a government offensive to cut off the rebel stronghold.

The Russian Foreign Ministry put out a statement on Monday condemning Sunday's bomb blasts in Damascus and Homs and calling for a "proper, principled response" from the international community to prevent terrorist groups from further aggravating the situation in Syria and inciting sectarian strife.

"The brutal crimes by extremists are aimed at intimidating the civilian population and undermining attempts to achieve a lasting political settlement of the Syrian crisis in the interests of all Syrians and efforts to end the violence and bloodshed," the Russian statement said.

Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Moscow, Zeina Karam and Philip Issa in Beirut and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Amazon to bring 1,000 jobs to Ottawa with new warehouse

    Canada News CBC News
    Online retail giant Amazon is set to make a major investment in Ottawa, with a warehouse that will employ roughly 1,000 people, according to two members of Parliament. Orléans MP Andrew Leslie confirmed in an interview with CBC News that the company plans to take over a giant warehouse proposed for 5371 Boundary Rd. Source
  • 100 years after death, MP and WWI veteran to be honoured with plaque in Ottawa

    Canada News CTV News
    The First World War claimed the lives of two sitting Canadian MPs, but until now, only one had been immortalized in the House of Commons. Killed in Belgium during the Battle of Mount Sorrel in June 1916, Lt. Source
  • Police officers rescue woman stuck in bathtub for 70 hours

    Canada News CTV News
    BRADFORD, Ont. -- Police in a community north of Toronto say a woman has been rescued after spending nearly three days stuck in a bathtub. South Simcoe police say officers were sent to a home in Bradford, Ont. Source
  • Georgia jury awards $1B in damages after guard rapes teen

    World News CBC News
    A Georgia jury has awarded an eye-popping $1-billion verdict against a security company after an apartment complex guard was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl. Hope Cheston was outside by some picnic tables with her boyfriend during a party in October 2012 when an armed security guard approached, attorney L. Source
  • Police ID woman killed in targeted attack at Toronto apartment

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police have identified the woman killed in what they call a targeted attack at a midtown apartment. Dead is 21-year-old Abbegail Elliott. Investigators say they were called to an apartment in the city's Annex neighbourhood at around 4:30 p.m. Source
  • Trump pardons Jack Johnson, boxing's 1st black heavyweight champion

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson's name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially charged conviction. "I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honour a truly legendary boxing champion," Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony. Source
  • Three-year-old girl's sundress deemed inappropriate for pre-school

    Canada News CTV News
    A three-year-old girl won’t be allowed to wear a sundress she loves to pre-school anymore after staff deemed the straps on the outfit inappropriate, a Winnipeg family says. Sadie Stonehouse said the pre-school has put her in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to her daughter, Lola, why the sundress isn’t allowed – a conversation she fears will make her three-year-old question her body. Source
  • Trump had to 'face the music' that U.S., North Korea worlds apart on nuclear deal

    World News CBC News
    Donald Trump's decision to scrap a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was inevitable, some experts say, but there is still hope the meeting can happen. Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy Studies, doesn't think the sudden scuttling of the summit was a strategic move by the president. Source
  • 30-year-old evicted from parents' house must leave by June 1

    World News CTV News
    SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A court order says a 30-year-old upstate New York man who was evicted from his parents' house must move out by noon on June 1. State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood signed the order on Thursday. Source
  • Toronto opens 800 beds for asylum seekers, asks for millions in provincial, federal help

    Canada News CTV News
    After announcing the opening of 800 additional beds for refugee claimants, the City of Toronto is demanding that the federal and provincial governments help cover more than $64 million it will have spent dealing with Canada’s influx of asylum seekers by the end of 2018. Source