UN hails ‘significant drop’ in Syria violence as US eyes Russian-backed joint integration center

© Ammar Abdullah
The UN says there has been “a significant drop in violence” in Syria as the ceasefire in the country appears to be holding. The UN’s special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura says he hopes that aid deliveries to stricken areas will take place “very soon.”

Although there have been reports of sporadic and geographically-isolated incidents, de Mistura was upbeat about the prospects for peace. 

“Sources on the ground, which do matter, including inside Aleppo city, said the situation has dramatically improved with no air strikes.” 

“There is no doubt a significant drop in violence,” he said, before cautioning that that only 24 hours of relative calm had passed. 

He added that UN aid convoys had yet to enter Syria, but was hopeful that the truce would continue and “(aid) access should be taking place very, very soon.” He mentioned that this would mean that the people of Syria can look forward to “no bombs and more trucks.” 

Senior US General Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters gathered at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the US was now looking into the prospect of setting up a “joint integration center with the Russians” in order to aid the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). 

“One thing we can say with confidence is there has been a significant drop in the level of violence – not to zero, obviously, and we would like to see even a greater drop in the days to come,” he said, as cited by Voice of America. 

He added that if the ceasefire holds for seven days, then both parties can look into establishing the joint center. 

Meanwhile, the Russian military said that the Syrian government is sticking to the ceasefire agreement, while there were 23 violations recorded on Monday by the so-called moderate rebel forces in Syria, who have Washington’s backing.  

“Syrian government forces have completely stopped [their] shelling, except for the areas occupied by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra militants. Unfortunately, that can’t be said about the armed forces of the moderate opposition, backed by the United States,” he said. 

Six people died on Monday night following the shelling of Aleppo by the moderate opposition forces, with 10 others receiving injuries, Colonel Sergey Kopytsin from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said Tuesday. 

“Five violations of the cessation of hostilities by the ‘moderate opposition’ in the city of Aleppo, which killed six and injured 10 people, were registered overnight following the introduction of the ceasefire,” Kopytsin said.