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28 February 2024

Syria ceasefire: Aid delivery begins

By Agencies

Aid workers on Monday made the first delivery of desperately needed assistance since the start of Syria's fragile ceasefire, as an international task force met to try to bolster the truce.

The task force co-chaired by Moscow and Washington held talks in Geneva to evaluate allegations of a range of breaches, said the United Nations, which mediated the three-day-old ceasefire.

At the weekend, key regime backer Russia traded accusations with the main opposition grouping, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), over truce violations.

On Monday, Russia said seven violations were recorded in the past 24 hours.

However, "the ceasefire between government troops and opposition forces is on the whole being observed", said General Sergei Kuralenko, tasked with monitoring the truce for Moscow, quoted in a defence ministry statement.

The HNC reported two alleged violations by regime forces in Daraa, southern Syria, and two by Russian warplanes in the central province of Hama.

The White House said it was not surprised by reports the ceasefire had been breached, but indicated it was too early to call it a failure.

"We did anticipate that there would be reports of violations and that we would encounter some potholes on the road to implementing this successfully," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said there had been some incidents but the ceasefire was generally holding.

And in an encouraging sign, aid workers began the first aid delivery since the deal came into effect, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.

Twenty trucks carrying blankets and hygiene supplies entered rebel-held Moadamiyet al-Sham, encircled by government forces, and another 31 were to follow later.