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Ceasefire Apparently Still Holding in Syria, Allowing Syrian Army To Redeploy To Fight ISIS

Jan. 1, 2017 (EIRNS)—While there are clearly efforts to disrupt it, the Russian-Turkish-Iranian brokered ceasefire in Syria appears, after three days, to still be largely holding. On Dec. 31, 2016, according to several news accounts, opposition groups had threatened to abandon the truce if the Syrian army didn’t stop its operations in the Wadi Barada valley to the northwest of Damascus. What the news reports didn’t say is that Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, formerly known as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al Nusra, cut off the flow of water to the city, endangering millions of people, and the Syrian army is fighting to restore the water supply.

"So far, Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham and their allies have refused the terms of surrender; this has prompted the Syrian Arab Army to strike their positions in order to prompt them to stop obstructing the flow of water to the people of Damascus,"

reports Al Masdar News (AMN).

In what was likely an attempt to blow things up, a bomb went off in Tartus, earlier today, killing two security officers who had stopped the attackers from entering a more populous area. As with the Istanbul attack, there is not yet a claim of responsibility. Fars also reported that terrorists are shelling the government-held towns of Fua’a and Kafraya in Idlib province, despite the truce. Otherwise, the truce seems still to be largely holding elsewhere in the country, Reuters reported this morning. Mohammed Rasheed, a spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr rebel group, one of the groups listed on Dec. 29 by the Russian Defense Ministry as participating in the truce, said the Hama area, where the group operates, was mostly calm.

The truce is allowing the Syrian Arab Army to redeploy its forces to fight ISIS, particularly in eastern Aleppo province and eastern Homs province, in the area of Palmyra and the oil and gas fields in the desert to the west and north. Al Masdar News reports that the Syrian army is entering 2017 with a great deal of confidence, following the series of victories it achieved—with Russian help—in 2016.