Vowing to Keep Fighting ISIS, Hezbollah Voices Support for Syrian Cease-fire

Lebanese group fighting for regime vows to continue battle against ISIS and al-Qaida's offshoot, but promises to respect Syrian government decision.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accuses Turkey and Saudi Arabia of using the Islamic State group as a "pretext" to launch a ground operation in Syria, in remarks to supporters in Beirut on February 16, 2016.
AP

Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, which is fighting for the embattled regime in Syria's civil war, says it supports the recently announced cease-fire agreement, but vowed to continue fighting against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's affiliate.

Hezbollah's media arm known as the Military Media says the "allies of Syria" abide by whatever the Syrian government decides. The Military Media said late Saturday that the truce is an opportunity that everyone should take for the interest of the Syrian people.

The group vowed to repel any attack its members are subjected to during the truce.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad's forces.

Smoke rises over Saif Al Dawla district, in Aleppo, Syria, in 2012.
Manu Brabo, AP

The announcement came after the Syrian government said it supports the U.S.-Russia agreement adding that it will cease its military operations in Aleppo.

The United States and Russia reached a breakthrough deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but air strikes hours later added to rebels' doubts that any ceasefire could hold

The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hardline Islamist groups. 

But hours after it was agreed, warplanes bombed a marketplace in rebel-held Idlib in northwestern Syria, killing at least 40 civilians, according to rescue workers and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Locals said they believed the jets to be Russian. 

Idlib province has endured escalating strikes by Russian planes in recent months, according to international aid workers and residents, destroying scores of hospitals, bakeries and other infrastructure across rebel-held territory. 

Aleppo was also hit from the air and fighting continued on the ground on Saturday. The army attacked rebel-held areas, both sides said, pushing to maximize gains before the ceasefire deadline. 

Residents inspect a damaged site after airstrikes hit a market in the rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria, September 10, 2016.
Ammar Abdullah, Reuters

Ten people were killed by barrel bombs dropped by army helicopters on the besieged rebel-held east of the city, and jets, either Syrian or Russian, bombed rebel-held towns along important insurgent supply routes. 
Insurgents said they were planning a counter-offensive. 

President Bashar al Assad's government made no comment on the peace deal, but Syrian state media quoted what it called private sources as saying the government had given its approval

Syria's mainstream political opposition, the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said it had not received a copy of the deal and would only react after consulting members. 

A spokeswoman had earlier welcomed any deal that spared civilian lives but cast doubt on whether Moscow would be able to pressure Damascus to stop indiscriminate bombing. 

In a sign of the multi-sided conflict, Israeli aircraft attacked a Syrian artillery post near the occupied Golan Heights on Saturday

The Israeli military said it was retaliation for a shell fired from Syria that had landed inside the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Syrian state television accused Israel of seeking to help an offensive by hardline Islamist rebels.