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The Russian Ministry of Defense announced a ceasefire agreement in northern Homs today. The agreement was reportedly brokered by al-Ghad, a Cairo-based Syrian opposition group led by Ahmad Jarba, and sponsored by Egypt and Russia. The ceasefire reportedly covers the opposition-held besieged enclaves of Talbiseh, al-Rastan, and al-Houleh, in addition to numerous villages and towns. The terms of the agreement call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities, the delivery of humanitarian aid, and the free movement of people. Pro-opposition media sources noted that the first delivery of humanitarian aid should arrive on 6 August. Russian military police will reportedly be deployed at several points to monitor the ceasefire. In the days prior to the announcement, northern Homs experienced a series intensification in airstrikes and shelling by the Assad Coalition. Initial reports from local Siege Watch sources said that the attacks did stop earlier today, however third party reporting indicated there may be violations of the ceasefire along the lines of government- and opposition-controlled areas just north of Homs city. (Reuters, AFP, Syria Direct, @SiegeWatch, Qasioun)
(Analyst Note: This announcement is being billed by Russia as the third de-escalation zone deal completed out of four that were announced earlier this year in Astana. While the initial deal announced for Daraa in southern Syria has largely held, the de-escalation zone deal announced last month in the Eastern Ghouta area of Rural Damascus has failed to produce results. Pro-government forces have continued to launch attacks on the besieged area and the checkpoints have largely remained closed to critically needed humanitarian assistance. Note that Jarba’s al-Ghad movement is not the primary political opposition body and it is unclear whether they have any real constituency in the ground in the areas for which they appear to be negotiating deals.)