The Syrian government and the main umbrella for Syrian opposition and rebel groups announced on Tuesday they both conditionally accept a proposed U.S.-Russian cease fire that the international community hopes will bring them back to the negotiating table in Geneva for talks to end the war.
The announcement came after the United States and Russia agreed on a new cease-fire for Syria that will take effect on Saturday, even as major questions over enforcement of that truce have been left unresolved.
The truce will not cover the Islamic State group, Syria’s al-Qaida-branch known as the Nusra Front, or any other militia that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.N. Security Council.
But exactly where in Syria the fighting would stop and where counterterrorism operations can continue under the truce is also still to be addressed. In addition, the five-page plan released by the U.S. State Department leaves open how breaches of the cease-fire will be identified or punished.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it accepts the proposed truce, adding that operations will continue against the Islamic State group, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria and “other terrorist groups linked to them.”
“The Syrian government stresses the right of its armed forces to retaliate against any violation carried out by these groups,” the ministry’s statement said.
The Syrian announcement came after the main umbrella for Syrian opposition and rebel groups, the High Negotiations Committee, said late Monday that it “agrees to a temporary truce” as long as the main opposition’s demands are met.
The HNC said the “acceptance of the truce is conditional” to the Syrian government ending its siege of 18 rebel-held areas, releasing detainees and the cessation of aerial and artillery bombardment.
Talal Sillo, a spokesman for the predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces told The Associated Press that his group will not abide by the truce because they are fighting against IS in northern Syria.
“Had we been fighting against the Syrian regime or the (opposition) Free Syrian Army, we would have abided by the truce,” said Sillo, whose group has become one of the most effective forces fighting IS extremists.
The U.N.-Russian agreement proposes that the cessation of hostilities start at midnight local time on Friday.
“Military actions, including airstrikes of the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Armed Forces, and the U.S.-led Counter ISIL Coalition will continue against ISIL, ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’ and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council,” the agreement says. It referred to ISIL, which is another acronym for the Islamic State group.