Fragile Syrian cease-fire goes into effect amid surge in violence

DAMASCUS -- One of the most serious challenges for the next president will be Syria. On Monday, a cease-fireworked out by the U.S. and Russia went into effect.

Secretary of State John Kerry said it could be the last chance to save a country torn apart by five and a half years of civil war, and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

But is the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad ready to stop fighting?

In a rare appearance, President Assad toured the Damascus suburb of Daraya on Monday and vowed to take back every inch of Syria from what he called the terrorists.

It was a staged victory lap, reports CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer. Three weeks ago, Daraya was in opposition hands. Now the regime is back in charge, after surrounding and pounding it from the air with crude barrel bombs for four years.

palmer-syria-0912.png

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toured a Damascus suburb

CBS News

Syrian soldiers celebrated the re-taking of Daraya, but it wasn’t a decisive win. The rebel fighters only agreed to withdraw if they got safe passage to Idlib, an opposition-controlled area 200 miles away, to carry on fighting.

Over the past few days, there’s been an 11th hour surge in violence before the cease-fire deadline.

Syrian and Russian planes bombed Idlib, one targeting a market where people were shopping for food, and others hitting civilian neighborhoods in Aleppo.

palmer-en-0912.png

A young boy cries during a surge in violence in Syria ahead of a cease-fire.

AMC

Monitoring groups estimate at least 91 people have been killed since the truce was announced, and scores more injured -- including children.

If the cease-fire does hold, it will bring a respite from this kind of carnage. But it won’t end a war that grinds on, because no side is strong enough to win, or weak enough to have to surrender.

And none of the armed opposition groups have signed on for the cease-fire. One of them -- the Free Syrian Army -- has announced that it’s rejecting it altogether. 

Needless to say, the ceasefire is fragile.