164 Killed as Russia & Regime Bomb Before Ceasefire

More than 160 people were killed across Syria on Saturday as Russia and the Assad regime bombed before a ceasefire takes effect tomorrow evening. The pro-opposition Local Coordination Committees reported that the victims included 32 children and 24 women. Of the deaths, 57 were in Idlib Province, amid pro-Assad airstrikes on a marketplace in Idlib city. The toll is expected to rise, given that some of the injured are in critical condition.Another 56 people died in Aleppo Province, with airstrikes on Batbo, Salhin, and Kafrnaha. There were 16 killed in Hama Province, and 15 in Daraa Province.

Early Saturday, Russia and the US announced that a ceasefire will begin on Monday at sundown, the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The “genuine reduction of violence” is supposed to allow aid to parts of Syria’s largest city Aleppo and besieged towns, although the opposition and rebels are sceptical that Russia and the Assad regime will control access to restrict assistance to opposition districts.

If the ceasefire holds, the US will begin sharing intelligence with Russia for targeting of airstrikes. Purportedly, this will be for attacks on the Islamic State and the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra. However, Russia has used the pretext of focus on ISIS and Nusra to cover thousands of strikes on opposition territory since last September. Moscow has prepared for further attacks by saying that rebels must be “separated” from JFS/Nusra or face bombing.The US maintains that, under the agreement, Russia will only attack in designated zones. Washington also says that Moscow will ensure that the regime air force does not bomb other areas controlled by the opposition.