Syria army announces halt in fighting in parts of Ghouta

A Syrian rebel fighter carries a homemade sniper rifle in Ain Tarma in Eastern Ghouta

A Syrian rebel fighter carries a homemade sniper rifle in Ain Tarma in Eastern Ghouta

The zone is one of four proposed in a plan approved in May by Russian Federation and Iran, which support Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Turkey, which backs rebels fighting his forces.

The command said in a statement carried by state TV that the cessation of operations began at noon local time Saturday.

"The army will retaliate in a suitable manner to any violation" of the ceasefire, the statement said, without specifying what areas were included.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Saturday an agreement has been reached with the Syrian opposition on the boundaries for a de-escalation zone for the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, after days of intense fighting and bombardment in the area.

Eastern Ghouta is in one of four proposed "de-escalation zones" designated in an agreement reached by government allies Iran and Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey in May.

A girl walks past the rubble of a destroyed building in the rebel-held Syrian town of Ayn Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital Damascus

Violence had been reported in the "de-escalation zones" since the deal was struck more than two months ago.

Russian Federation said the sides have now signed agreements under which "the borders of the de-escalation zone are defined as well as the deployment locations and powers of the forces monitoring the de-escalation".

It said the sides had also agreed "routes to supply humanitarian aid to the population and for free movement of residents".

"The first humanitarian convoy to the de-escalation zone and evacuation of the injured are due within days", the Defense Ministry added.

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