Calm prevailed Saturday across much of war-ravaged Syria on the first day of a landmark ceasefire, as a task force led by Moscow and Washington prepared to begin monitoring the truce.

 

On the stroke of midnight, firing stopped in suburbs around the capital and the devastated northern city of Aleppo, AFP correspondents said, after a day of intense Russian airstrikes on rebel bastions across the country.

 

The nationwide cessation of hostilities, which does not include extremist groups, is the first pause in a five-year civil war that has claimed 270,000 lives and displaced more than half the population.

 

“I can’t hide the fact that I’m happy the war has stopped, even for a few minutes,” 24-year-old regime soldier Abdel Rahman Issa said from a battlefield on the eastern outskirts of Damascus.

 

“If it continues like this, maybe we can go home.”

 

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura said peace talks would resume on March 7 if the truce holds and more aid is delivered – a key sticking point in negotiations.

 

 

 

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