US envoy calls on Syria rebels to respect truce
The US envoy for Syria has urged rebel groups to respect a shaky nationwide truce after they gave its brokers 48 hours to stop a regime offensive near the capital.
Beirut: The US envoy for Syria has urged rebel groups to respect a shaky nationwide truce after they gave its brokers 48 hours to stop a regime offensive near the capital.
Twenty-nine rebel groups on Sunday set the deadline for the US and Russian sponsors of the February 27 ceasefire to halt an offensive by President Bashar al-Assad`s regime in the Damascus region.
"We recognise that the CoH (Cessation of Hostilities) is under severe stress, but believe that to abandon it now would be strategic error," Michael Ratney said in a statement posted late Monday on Twitter.
"If the armed factions abandoned the CoH, Assad and his supporters would claim this gives them licence to attack all the opposition forces without international objection," he warned.
"Please know that we share your concerns and have raised them directly today with senior Russian officials," Ratney said, addressing opposition factions.
"We urge all armed factions to continue to submit violation reports to the United Nations," he added.
Rebel groups on Sunday called on ceasefire sponsors to force the regime "to completely and immediately halt their brutal offensive against Daraya and Eastern Ghouta", rebel areas outside Damascus.
Syria`s army, backed by Lebanon`s Shiite militia Hezbollah, on Thursday recaptured the town of Deir al-Assafir and nine nearby villages in the south of Eastern Ghouta.
The town of Daraya, also near the capital, was one of the first to erupt in demonstrations against the government in 2011. It has been under a strict regime siege since late 2012.
Syria`s conflict has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011.