A fragile truce in Syria has been extended for 48 hours under an agreement between Moscow and Washington, but there was still no sign of much-needed aid deliveries on Thursday.
The US State Department said late Wednesday that US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had spoken and agreed to prolong the ceasefire which began on Monday.
They recognised that “despite sporadic reports of violence, as a whole the arrangement is holding and violence is, I’d say, significantly lower in comparison to previous days and weeks,” US State Department spokesman MarkToner told reporters.
Earlier Moscow had called for the ceasefire to be extended, despite accusing rebels of violating the truce 60 times since it came into force.
The truce, agreed after marathon US-Russia talks in Geneva last week, is part of the latest bid to end a five-year conflict that has killed more than 300,000 people. It aims to halt fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebel factions, but does not include jihadists like the Islamic State group (ISIS).
So far it has produced “a significant drop in violence,” according to the UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, but a key part of the deal calling for unhindered aid access, in particular to besieged areas of Syria, has yet to be implemented.