An open-ended ceasefire in southern Syria brokered by the United States and Russia has come into effect.
The ceasefire, announced after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg last week, is the first initiative by the Trump administration in collaboration with Russia to bring some stability to war-torn Syria.
No ceasefire has lasted long in the six-year-old Syrian war. US-backed rebels, Syrian government forces and militants from the so-called ‘ Islamic State’ group are all fighting for control of southern Syria.
The latest truce is intended to allay concerns of neighbouring Israel and Jordan about Iranian-backed and government-allied forces at their borders. The truce does not include the ‘IS’ group. Israel said it would “welcome a genuine ceasefire” in southern Syria, as long as it does not enable a military presence for Iran and its proxies along Israel’s border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments were Israel’s first since the ceasefire came effect on Sunday.
Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, which is a close ally of the Syrian government, to set up a permanent presence in Syria. It has carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria against suspected shipments of “game-changing” weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Mr Netanyahu said he conveyed his country’s concerns once again last week to both Mr Putin and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mr Netanyahu said both said they understand Israel’s position and took it into account.