Town of Douma is targeted shortly before US-Russian plan to halt opposing is due to take effect
The main umbrella organisation for Syrian opposition groups backed by the west and Saudi Arabia has said armed groups opposing President Bashar al-Assad would respect a two-week truce beginning at midnight local period( 10 pm GMT ).
The high negotiations committee told virtually 100 rebel factions had agreed to the ceasefire, adding that the Syrian government and its friends must not launch attacks on the pretext of fighting terrorism.
Russian president Vladimir Putin welcomed the proclamation, went on to say that though the planned ceasefire is complex, there is no alternative.
Under the terms of the deal, armed groups had to confirm their commitment to the US or Russia no later than 12 pm Damascus time( 10 am GMT ). It was not immediately clear how many factions have refused to join the ceasefire or their military significance.
Fighting was continuing across much of western Syria on Friday morning, with heavy airstrikes reported on rebel-held areas to the east of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told at the least 10 air raid hit Douma, in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, and reported artillery bombardment by government forces in Hama and Homs provinces.
Fighting also resumed at sunrise between rebels and government forces in the north-western province of Latakia, where the Syrian army and its friends are trying to retake territory from insurgents at the border with Turkey.
The UN security council is preparing on Friday to pass a resolution endorsing the US-Russian plan to halt the fighting and naming the key parties to the ceasefire.
The cessation of hostilities excludes Islamic State( Isis ), the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and any other terrorist groups named by the security council. The intermingling of the Nusra Front with less extreme opposition cliques constructs the monitoring of the ceasefire highly complex, and is accessible to abuse.
The HNC raised the issue with US and British envoys. We are against the terrorism in the form of Isis and Nusra, but we dont want Russia to target the moderate factions under the excuse of targeting Nusra, said spokesman Salem al-Meslet.
In one of the few provinces held by opponent forces-out, Idlib, the Nusra Front works alongside more moderate rebel political and military groups.
Despite the flaws in the cessation plan, the UNs special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is due to address the security council in closed session and set out his plans for a resumption of peace talks, possibly on 7 March.
The comparatively slow schedule dedicates time for breaches of the cessation of hostilities to be addressed and confidence built to allow humanitarian access to besieged towns.
The US and Russia are now working to produce a map setting out the physical areas that are excluded from the ceasefire, so in effect setting out territory that Russia and the Syrian government army would be permitted to continue bombing with the de facto approval of the United Nations.
There is also alarm that some areas largely run by the opposition Free Syrian Army may be excluded from the ceasefire. The Assad government has said it believes it will be permitted to attack rebels in Daraya, south Syria.
If there is any ceasefire without Daraya, then in our view there is no ceasefire, because it is a Free Syrian Army stronghold, told Issam al-Rayyes, a spokesman for the western-backed Southern Front rebel coalition.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told no one could give 100% guaranties the ceasefire would be implemented and called on the US to end calls for Bashar al-Assads abdication as president of Syria.
The Russians have given the impression of being largely in charge of the peace process, with the US forced to see if Putins plan brings an end to the fighting or instead an elaborate ruse to divide the Syrian opposition.
The draft resolutions of the security council reiterates its support for the UN-brokered peace talks and bellows on all parties in the conflict to grant access to aid employees to ease the countrys worsening humanitarian crisis.
One of the main purposes of the cessation of hostilities is to allow aid to reach civilians, especially in besieged regions cut off from supplies.
The US chairwoman, Barack Obama, said on Thursday he was willing to give the cessation of hostilities a chance to work, but said there were plenty of reasons for scepticism.
The Obama administration has spoken of a plan B if either the ceasefire and the subsequent peace talks do not construct substantive progress in three months. But there is little optimism Washington has a plan B it is prepared to implement, making de facto partition the most likely, if unwelcome, option.
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