The Syrian government and opposition groups began a ceasefire Monday following negotiations by the US and Russia. The ceasefire agreement was reached on Friday and although air strikes were carried out over the weekend, news outlets have reported calm [BBC report] after sunset Monday. If all parties abide by the ceasefire for seven days, the US and Russia will coordinate [NPR report] attacks on jihadist groups. The US currently supports opposition forces, and Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad [CNN profile]. The Free Syrian Army group and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham both agreed to the ceasefire, although they are concerned that the ceasefire will later benefit Assad’s government.
The conflict in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] has continued for five years in a civil war surrounding the legitimacy of Assad. Last week a UN commission on Syria urged [JURIST report] parties in the Syrian conflict to return to the “negotiation table” after a new report highlighted an increase of violence suffered by civilians. In August a top UN official submitted a report detailing an in-depth investigation into chemical warfare [JURIST report] used by Islamic State and Assad in Syria. That same month Amnesty International said that a suspected chlorine gas attack in Aleppo could amount to a war crime [JURIST report]. In July Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] cluster bombs have been targeted at civilians and rebels in Northern Syria. In June UN human rights experts called for the immediate protection [JURIST report] of thousands of Syrian civilians.