Middle East

Ceasefire holds in NW Syria after violation: monitor

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front stand in front of piled sandbags near the two Shi'ite Muslim towns of al-Foua and Kefraya in northwestern Syria, Sept. 22, 2015. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

BEIRUT: A week-old ceasefire agreement in northwest Syria appeared to hold Sunday after it was violated for the first time overnight, a monitoring group said.

An online statement attributed to insurgent alliance the Army of Conquest said rebels shelled Shiite village al-Foua in retaliation for government attacks on areas nearby and in the city of Homs farther south.

The insurgents blamed government forces for violation of the ceasefire.

Under the Iranian- and Turkish-backed ceasefire, warring sides have agreed to cease hostilities in at least two villages in northwestern province Idlib, and a town near the Lebanese border for up to six months.

During that time, insurgent fighters are to withdraw from the border town of Zabadani, where they are surrounded by pro-government forces. In return, civilians would be evacuated from the Shiite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib which are under rebel siege.

Rebels shelled al-Foua overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.





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