The Assad regime and an umbrella organisation representing a large number of rebel groups have agreed to the terms of a truce deal, which would pause hostilities from Saturday.
The government said it would halt its “combat operations” in line with the deal, but the rebel alliance said that their agreement was dependant on government forces and its allies ending sieges and halting the air strikes on civilians.
In announcing their agreement to the deal, the Saudi-backed High Negotiation Committee (HNC), which represents most of the main opposition and rebel factions, said it was “committed to the success of the international efforts dedicated to ending Syrian bloodshed”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry conceded that enforcing the plan on the ground will be difficult, but remarked on “a moment of promise” for ending the bloodshed in Syria.
In a statement, he said:
“This is a moment of promise, but the fulfillment of that promise depends on actions. All parties must meet their commitments under this agreement, ensure full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and cease attacks on each other, including aerial bombardments. And all parties must remain committed over a period of time to make possible a political end to this conflict.
“As we move forward, we will remain vigilant to ensure that implementation achieves what we set out to do, which is to stop the violence and provide the space and the opportunity for a negotiated political transition, in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012, that unites all Syrians who reject dictatorship and terrorism and want to build a new future for their country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to ensure Damascus fulfils its obligations under the truce.
The United Nations welcomed news of the ceasefire, but admits that monitoring and enforcing the agreement could prove challenging.
The deal does not include any cessation of hostilities with the Islamic State or the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which has formed alliances with a number of less moderate rebel groups.
The deal is a tentative first step to finding a diplomatic resolution to the five-year conflict in Syria that has killed 250,000 people and displaced 11 million more, including four million who fled the country.