BEIRUT — The Latest on the civil war in Syria, where a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia began at sundown (all times local):
More than a dozen Syrian rebel groups have harshly criticized a U.S. and Russian agreement aimed at reducing the violence, but did not reject a cease-fire that went into effect at sundown.
The 21 insurgent groups, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham and Army of Islam, welcomed plans to deliver aid to besieged areas of the northern city of Aleppo and said they would help facilitate it.
But their statement, released hours after the cease-fire took effect Monday, denounced the “unjust agreement” between Washington and Moscow to target the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham group.
The groups say the international community is not serious about resolving Syria’s conflict.
They say the only alternative they have is “to go ahead in our battle against the regime and its allies until the last bullet in our guns.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is imploring Syria’s warring sides to adhere to a nationwide cease-fire.
Kerry says there has been a reduction in violence since the truce began at sundown on Monday in Syria. Kerry negotiated the truce with Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and announced it with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov last week.
For it to work, Kerry says the rebels must stop intermingling with al-Qaida-linked militants and Syria’s government must allow aid deliveries to besieged areas.
Kerry says Syria’s government can continue bombing missions against al-Qaida-linked militants in opposition areas until a new U.S.-Russian military partnership against the extremists begins. That is supposed to happen after a week of calm.
Germany is urging all sides to respect the cease-fire in Syria brokered by the United States and Russia.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters Monday that with the deal, “we now have at least a halfway realistic chance to finally get help to the war-stricken people of Syria.”
He added that “games on the backs of people and tactics to gain territory must now come to an end.”
The cease-fire went into effect at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT), but powerful rebel groups have yet to say whether they will abide by it. The Syrian government, and its allies Russia and Iran, have endorsed the deal.
Russia has voiced concern that some Syrian rebel groups may not adhere to a cease-fire and is calling on Washington to ensure their compliance.
The cease-fire went into effect at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Monday, but some of the most powerful rebel groups have yet to say whether they will abide by it. The Syrian government and its allies have endorsed the deal.
The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced particular concern about Ahrar al-Sham, a powerful ultraconservative rebel group that has yet to accept the truce.
The ministry says that under the terms of the cease-fire, humanitarian convoys are to begin entering the besieged city of Aleppo along the Castello road. It added that another road south of Aleppo will also be open for humanitarian access.
A main Syrian opposition group linked to several small, moderate rebel factions says they will deal “positively” with the truce brokered by the U.S. and Russia.
The Syrian National Coalition says that any effort that aims to end the suffering of the people “is a step in the right direction and we will deal with it positively.”
The statement was released at sunset, when the truce went into effect. It says rebel groups will have the right to defend themselves if they come under attack by government forces.
Powerful insurgent groups such as the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham have not said whether they will abide by the truce brokered last week.
The coalition said Russia should not take part in monitoring the truce because it backs the President Bashar Assad’s government.
Syria’s army says it has begun implementing a U.S.-Russian cease-fire, but the country’s most powerful insurgent groups have not yet said whether they will abide by it.
The Syrian government and its main allies, Russia and Iran, say they will abide by the weeklong truce, which was set to begin at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Monday.
Half an hour before the truce went into effect, violence was reported in several areas throughout Syria.
The deal, announced last week by Washington and Moscow, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and the Russian-allied Syrian government.
If the truce holds for a week, the U.S. and Russia would begin intelligence sharing and target coordination against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants.
Russia says it will continue strikes against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria in coordination with the U.S. military as a cease-fire brokered by Moscow and Washington goes into effect.
Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff says the Russian and U.S. militaries will set up a joint executive center to coordinate the strikes.
He adds that the Russian military will use drones to monitor the observance of the cease-fire, which is set to take effect Monday at sundown.
U.S. and Russian officials announced the cease-fire early Saturday, saying they hoped it would facilitate humanitarian access to civilians.
Italy says a Syrian cease-fire could pave the way for political negotiations aimed at ending the long and bloody conflict.
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that a cessation of hostilities must happen before talks can begin.
He said “a long list” of difficulties had confronted U.S. and Russian officials trying to hammer out the deal, but an agreement was reached, with the cease-fire set to begin in a few hours.
The deal, announced last week by the U.S. and Russian foreign ministers, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and Russian-supported Syrian government.
It also allows the government to continue to strike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants for another week.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister says peace talks to end Syria’s five-year civil war could be resumed next month.
Mikhail Bogdanov’s comments on Monday came hours before a cease-fire was scheduled to go into effect in Syria at sunset.
Bogdanov told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency that he expects talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups to resume in early October, adding that Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy to Syria, would name the date.
The cease-fire, announced Saturday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and the Russian-allied Syrian government.
Syrian President Bashar Assad says his government is determined to “reclaim every area from the terrorists, and to rebuild” the country. His remarks came just hours ahead of the start of a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia.
Assad spoke to the state news agency SANA on the streets of Daraya, a Damascus suburb that surrendered to government authority last month.
He says: “We call on all Syrians to turn toward reconciliation.”
Earlier in Daraya, Assad joined the prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in a rare public appearance that sent a strong message to his opponents.
SANA says no civilians were present in the suburb, once home to nearly a quarter million people, after the last of them were evacuated as part of the surrender agreement.
The U.N. envoy for Syria says his office will monitor the start of a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire in Syria “carefully before making any hurried comments.”
Staffan de Mistura said in a text message to The Associated Press on Monday that no statement from his office about the truce was expected before the following afternoon.
The cease-fire, announced last week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and Russian-supported Syrian government. It also allows the government to continue to strike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants for another week.
The U.N. offices in Geneva, where de Mistura is based, was closed Monday to honor the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Activists say Syrian government forces and their allies are bombing opposition areas in the country’s north, just hours ahead of the start of a U.S.- and Russia-brokered cease-fire.
The bombing on Monday came as al-Qaida-linked militants pushed on with an offensive in the country’s southern Quneitra province.
Ahmad Primo, an opposition media activist in the contested city of Aleppo, says airstrikes on the city’s rebel-held eastern district “have not let up” since the morning.
The Local Coordination Committees monitoring group reported airstrikes on the Aleppo neighborhoods and suburbs of Rashiddine, Salihine, and Jazmata.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 18 militants were killed fighting government forces in the push in the south.
Turkey’s president says his country will send food, clothing and children’s toys to the contested Syrian city of Aleppo after a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire takes effect at sundown in the neighboring country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge came at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Monday and the Turkish leader says the aid will be delivered along specific routes at sundown.
Erdogan said Turkey’s Red Crescent, along with the country’s disaster and emergency management agency, will try to deliver aid to the northern Syrian towns of al-Rai and Jarablus.
Ankara’s incursion last month into northern Syria has helped Syrian rebels retake Jarablus from the Islamic State group.
A cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia is set to begin at sunset in Syria amid mixed messages of commitment from various rebel factions but with verbal backing by President Bashar Assad’s government.
Assad made a rare public appearance on Monday, attending prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at a mosque in the suburb of Daraya, which surrendered last month after four years of government siege.
The cease-fire deal hammered out between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva last week allows the Syrian government to continue to strike at the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants, until the U.S. and Russia take over the task in one week’s time.
Rebel factions have expressed deep reservations about the deal.