Two-Day Ceasefire in Three Syrian Towns

For the second time in two weeks, warring sides agree to a 48-hour ceasefire in the town of Zabadani and two Shiite villages in Idlib.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ahrar al-Sham rebel fighters in Syria
Ahrar al-Sham rebel fighters in Syria

Syrian insurgents, the Syrian army and the Lebanese group Hezbollah on Wednesday agreed on a 48-hour ceasefire in the rebel-held town of Zabadani near Lebanon's border and two Shiite villages in Idlib province, Reuters reported.

The ceasefire would begin Thursday at 6:00 a.m. local time, sources on both sides said.

This marks the second time in two weeks the sides have agreed on a ceasefire. The earlier truce in the same areas, however, broke down even after a brief extension, and fighting has raged since.

A fighter on the side of government forces in Zabadani told Reuters clashes had intensified prior to the latest planned ceasefire.

The previous ceasefire, which began August 12, was intended to give a chance for negotiations aimed at a more lasting cessation of hostilities in both areas.

That ceasefire also aimed to secure the withdrawal of rebel fighters from Zabadani and of citizens from the two villages.

Ahrar al-Sham, an insurgent group involved in negotiations, blamed the failure of that round of talks on the Iranian delegation with which it was negotiating, saying it was trying to effectively exchange one area for another.

Zabadani has been the focus of an offensive by Hezbollah and the Syrian army against insurgent groups holed up there. The area is of crucial importance to President Bashar Al-Assad because of its proximity to Damascus and the Lebanese border.

Since it began in March 2011, the conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 240,000 people and has forced millions to flee their homes.