A U.S.-Russian brokered cease-fire for southwest Syria was holding hours after it took effect Sunday, as a Syrian official indicated the government's approval of the deal.
Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian Revolutionary Killed by Israeli Intelligence
The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a cease-fire and "de-escalation agreement" this week with the aim of paving the way for a broader, larger truce.
The new agreement includes Deraa and Suweida on the Jordanian border; and Quneitra near the borders of Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Lebanon.
The announcement came after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit of major economies in Germany Friday.
The countries also agreed on three de-escalation zones, where Russian military police will begin establishing security in the zones, followed by coordination with the United States and Jordan.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the deal includes "securing humanitarian access and setting up contacts between the opposition in the region and a monitoring center that is being established in Jordan's capital."
The Syrian government official told Reuters, "We welcome any step that would cease the fire and pave the way for peaceful solutions."
Rhymes Reasons: World Voices
A witness in Deraa said he had not seen warplanes in the sky or heard any fighting since noon.
With the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has pushed back anti-government groups over the last year. These forces include jihadist factions and other groups supported by the United States, Turkey and several Gulf monarchies.
The U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Syria said Saturday the deal was a "positive development" ahead of the latest round of U.N.-sponsored peace talks to begin in Geneva on Monday.
A senior State Department official involved in the talks said further discussions would be necessary to decide crucial aspects of the agreement, including who will monitor its enforcement. The deal marks the first peace-making effort in the Syrian war by the U.S. government under Trump.
Western-backed anti-government forces control swathes of Deraa and Quneitra, which are home to tens of thousands of people and form a center of the insurgency south of the Syrian capital Damascus.