Syrian Opposition Groups Back US-Russia Deal

Several factions within the Syrian opposition offered that their partial backing to the recent ceasefire deal between the United States and Russia on Sunday. In a letter to the United States the groups stated that they would “cooperate positively” in the spirit of the deal, though it also articulated various reservations and concerns.

The opposition’s letter states: “We in the revolutionary factions reconfirm our fixed position of dealing positively with the idea of a ceasefire” but goes on to express concerns “linked to our survival and continuation as a revolution”.

The letter comes just a day after US special envoy Michael Ratney issued a similar correspondence to the opposition groups urging them to accept the deal.

A major issue for the groups who are fighting against the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, is that the deal – which begins at dusk on Monday – contains few guarantees and/or methods of enforcement should either side welch on their commitments. The letter notes that the Assad regime had scuppered a previous attempted deal by reneging on its promises.

More specifically, the opposition’s letter to the US expressed worries that the deal was focused too much on the ongoing strife in Aleppo to the detriment of elsewhere. In short, the opposition groups state that the ceasefire offers little to protect areas already under significant stress from government operations, for instance the besieged district of Daraya, from further pressure by the Assad regime.

The opposition’s letter to the US also complains of double standards. In particular it notes that some Iranian backed militias are included in the deal while Jabhat Fateh al-Sham – a sunni group which was previously affiliated to Al Qaeda (then known as Jabhat al-Nusra) – is excluded.

Finally, the sooner opposition groups behind the letter stressed the urgent need for aid to civilian areas under duress, “we insist on the necessity of aid going in to all the besieged areas without exception”.


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