Syrian Opposition ‘Yet to Decide’ Whether to Commit to Ceasefire

BEIRUT (Reuters) -
A boy carries an opposition flag as rebel fighters and civilians gather during the arrival of an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent and United Nation (UN) to the rebel held besieged town of Kafr Batna, on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria February 23, 2016. Picture taken February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
A boy carries an opposition flag as rebel fighters and civilians gather during the arrival of an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent and United Nation to the rebel-held besieged town of Kafr Batna, on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday. (Reuters/Bassam Khabieh)

The Syrian opposition has yet to decide whether it will commit to a U.S.-Russian plan to stop fighting in Syria on Saturday, chief opposition negotiator Mohamad Alloush told Orient News on Wednesday.

Alloush said the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which he is a member of, would give the final answer.

“We have until Friday,” said Alloush, who heads the political office of the Jaish al-Islam terrorist group.

The Saudi-backed HNC, which groups political and armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said on Monday in a statement it had “given its acceptance of international efforts for a cessation of hostilities.”

But it said acceptance of a truce was conditional on fulfillment of previous demands including an end to blockades, free access for humanitarian aid, a release of detainees, and a halt to aerial and artillery bombardments against civilians.

One opposition concern is that the agreement allows for continued attacks on the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front – whose terrorists are widely spread out in opposition-held areas – and other groups designated as terrorists by the U.N. Security Council.

An HNC spokesman said on Tuesday the U.S-Russian plan for a “cessation of hostilities” included “obscure terms” and was heavily influenced by Russia, which is mounting air strikes in support of Assad.

Rebels fear Russia will use that as a pretext to bomb them.