Syrian army declares 48-hour ceasefire in Deraa

Syrian army halts combat operations for two days in southern city

Syrian army halts combat operations for two days in southern city

This comes as the United Nations special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistrua, announced that the seventh round of Geneva talks will take place on July 9.

"General Command of the Army and Armed Forces has announced the cessation of all combat operations in the southern city of Daraa for 48 hours in support of national reconciliation", Syrian Arab News Agency, an outlet run by President Bashar Assad's regime, announced Saturday.

But the army said all combat operations will stop for 48 hours as of 12pm on Saturday (0900 GMT).

The United States welcomed the ceasefire announcement and called on the Syrian government to live up to its ceasefire commitments.

"We will judge this initiative by the results, not the words", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Saturday.

She urged Syrian opposition groups to halt attacks to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed since the war began more than six years ago, and the conflict has sparked a region-wide refugee crisis that has affected countries across the world.

A "de-escalation agreement" brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in May has not brought any relief to the city, activists said. Since May, violence levels have vastly reduced in some of those proposed de-escalation areas, but fighting has continued on major frontline areas including in Deraa city.

Mistura said that the talks will rely on the progress made in the de-escalation zones' deal, which was internationally backed and went into effect last May.

"We have not heard of any such talk and the regime is still attacking us with the same intensity", the commander said at 3:30 PM (1230 GMT).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, reported a cautious calm in the hours after the truce was announced.

The United States and Russian Federation have been holding talks on creating a "de-escalation zone" in southwestern Syria which would include Deraa province, on the border with Jordan, and Quneitra, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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