The Syrian military has announced the cessation of hostilities in the southern city of Dara'a for 48 hours in support of national reconciliation efforts meant to secure civilian lives and give an opportunity to foreign-sponsored militants to lay down their arms.
The announcement came on the same day as the United Nations said it wanted to start a fresh round of peace talks between Syrian factions on July 10 in Geneva, and Russian Federation said it hoped to hold talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on July 4-5.
"The opposition should similarly halt attacks to allow the ceasefire to endure, and hopefully be extended", the statement added.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed since the war began more than six years ago, and the conflict has sparked a region-wide refugee crisis that has affected countries across the world.
Violence levels have vastly reduced in those proposed de-escalation areas, but fighting has continued in major frontline areas, including in Deraa city.
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The Syrian army and Iran-backed militia forces have stepped up attacks against a rebel-held part of Deraa in recent weeks, in a possible prelude to a large-scale campaign to gain full control.
Staffan de Mistura's office said the aim was for delegates to arrive in the Swiss city on July 9 and for talks to start the next day, although it did not say how long the round is expected to last. The United States welcomed the ceasefire in a statement, but pressed for results, not talk.
The ceasefire on Saturday marked the beginning of the seventh round of negotiations in Geneva.
A Free Syrian Army fighter speaks on radio at al-Nuaimah village in Deraa province, Syria on June 17, 2017.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting and shelling in Deraa fell off slightly after the announcement of the cease-fire, but a rebel leader told the Reuters news agency there had been no change in the pace of the fight.
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