Syria’s Military Declares Three-Day Nationwide Cease-Fire

Syria civil war
A Syrian Kurdish boy sits on a destroyed tank in the Syrian town of Kobane on March 27, 2015. The Syrian military declared a three-day ceasefire across the country on Wednesday. Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian military declared a three-day cease-fire across the country on Wednesday in concurrence with the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holidays at the end of Ramadan, according to state media.

The truce is to end at midnight on Friday in what the military called a “regime of calm” that began from 01:00am local time on Wednesday, a military source told Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on an official to NATO ally Georgia, said that   “we very much welcome” the Syrian declaration of a truce across the country and said Washington hoped that all parties would adhere to it.

“We are trying very hard to grow these current discussions in a longer-lasting, real, enforceable, cessation of hostilities,” Kerry said. “We hope that the 72 hours could perhaps be a harbinger of possibilities to come.”

Washington’s top diplomat added that such a truce had been a “matter of discussion” in the U.S.-Russia-chaired International Syria Support Group, which consists of 22 nation members.

A cease-fire boosts hopes that the opposing parties, that of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a main opposition consisting of rebels groups, could lead to negotiations outside of Syria that may result in a political settlement.

Despite the announcement of the truce, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that clashes had continued into Wednesday, with the Syrian government close to capturing the city of Madaya, which Assad’s forces have held under siege for months.

The group also reported government and rebel shelling in the northern city of Aleppo, the heart of the five-year civil war where previous cease-fires have collapsed. Such cease-fires have not included the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and regime operations have continued against the groups.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people and displaced millions, both internally and externally.