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  • Children ride in carts on the third day of Eid al-Adha in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib, Syria Sept. 14, 2016.

    Children ride in carts on the third day of Eid al-Adha in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib, Syria Sept. 14, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 September 2016

The U.S. and Russia say the truce from Monday has largely held and is extended for 48 hours as the U.N. urged pressure to allow aid delivery.

The U.S. and Russia say the Syrian cessation of hostilities that began Monday has largely held and should be extended for another 48 hours despite the United Nations complaining that aid has not yet crossed into Syria from Lebanon, a key part of the deal.

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The cessation of hostilities, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last Friday, went into effect Monday night.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said Kerry and Lavrov had spoken by telephone earlier Wednesday and agreed it was worth extending the truce.

Under the deal, the United States and Russia are aiming to reduce violence over seven consecutive days before they move to the next stage of coordinating military strikes against Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, which are not party to the truce.

"There was agreement that as a whole, despite sporadic reports of violence, the arrangement is holding, and violence is significantly lower in comparison with previous days and weeks," Toner told a briefing.

"As part of the conversation they agreed to extend the cessation for another 48 hours," he said.

Meanwhile, two convoys of aid for the Syrian city of Aleppo were waiting in no-man's land on Wednesday after crossing the Turkish border, held up by security fears and disagreements between combatants on the third day of a cease-fire.

As the truce is largely an effort to allow aid to reach Syrians in need of help, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Russia and the U.S. Wednesday to push their allies in Syria to allow safe passage for desperately needed aid.

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"It's crucially important (that) the necessary security arrangements" are made so the convoy can travel, Ban said.

"I have been urging the Russian government to make sure that they exercise influence on the Syrian government, and also the American side to make sure that Syrian armed groups, they also fully co-operate," Ban said.

The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Tuesday that his organization was waiting for Damascus to issue letters authorizing the aid deliveries, which are desperately needed in Aleppo, the scene of Syria's fiercest fighting in recent months.

The U.N. has estimated that well over half a million people are living under siege in Syria, while independent monitor Siege Watch says that number actually exceeds 1 million. The five-year-long civil war in Syria has left more than 400,000 people dead and more than 11 million people displaced.

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