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Syria's cease-fire holds despite minor violations

Last Updated Dec 30, 2016 8:05 AM EST

BEIRUT -- Syrian opposition activists said a nationwide cease-fire that went into effect at midnight is holding despite minor violations.

If it holds, the truce between the Syrian government and the country’s mainstream rebel forces will be followed by peace talks next month in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in announcing the agreement. He described it, however, as “quite fragile” and requiring “special attention and patience.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes early Friday between troops and rebels in the central province of Hama and near the capital, Damascus.

Opposition activist Mazen al-Shami, who is based in the Damascus suburb of Douma, said minor clashes nearby left one rebel wounded.

The cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey marked a potential breakthrough in the nearly six-year-long conflict, though past truces have failed. Still, the deal raised hopes for a political settlement to the ruinous war, in part because the landscape has significantly shifted recently.

The United States called the cease-fire a positive development, CBS News’ Holly Williams reports, but this deal has effectively sidelined the U.S. in Syria. Russia’s lethal air campaign in Syria has managed to prop up the Syrian regime, and it has helped Moscow look like a truly global player for the first time since the Cold War.

Meanwhile, in an interview with TG5, and Italian TV station, Syrian president Bashar Assad said “we are more optimistic, with caution,” about the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has suggested greater cooperation with Russia against extremist groups. 

“We can say part of the optimism could be related to better relation between the United States and Russia,” Assad said, speaking in English.

“Mr. Trump, during his campaign - (said) that his priority is fighting terrorism, and we believe that this is the beginning of the solution, if he can implement what he announced,” Assad said in the interview, which was apparently filmed before the cease-fire was announced. 

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency meanwhile quoted the military as saying Russia carried out three airstrikes against Islamic State targets near the northern town of al-Bab, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces have been battling the extremist group, which is excluded from the truce.