Airstrikes Halt in Syria's Idlib as Truce Goes Into Effect

Observers welcome 'cautious calm,' but locals report continued artillery activity

Members of the Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, following a reported airstrike in the Idlib province on June 3, 2019.
AFP

Opposition activists say airstrikes have stopped in northwestern Syria after a truce went into effect there, seeking to reduce violence in the wake of a three-month government offensive.

Syrian state media quoted an unnamed military official as saying the conditional cease-fire went into effect at midnight Thursday.

The reports say the rebels will have to retreat 20 kilometers, or 12.5 miles, from demilitarized areas around the stronghold agreed to in a cease-fire deal reached last September.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the province of Idlib is witnessing "cautious calm" on Friday as warplanes stopped flying over the province.

Ahmad Sheikho of the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, says that since midnight "there are no warplanes in the air" but that artillery shelling continued.