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Syrian Army Declares Cease-Fire In South


Smoke rises around buildings following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa on June 22.

The Syrian Army has declared a unilateral cease-fire in the south of the country, citing a bid to support "reconciliation efforts."

The July 3 announcement carried by state media came a day before fresh peace talks set to be held in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

The army statement said the cease-fire, the second in the last two weeks, impacts the southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida.

"In order to support the peace process and national reconciliation, a cessation of hostilities took hold at 12:00 p.m. on July 2 and will last until midnight on July 6," the statement said.

The statement did not specifically mention the two-day talks in Astana, which are set to begin on July 4.

The talks are being brokered by Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

While Russia, the United States, and Turkey are all fighting against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, Moscow and Iran are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the Syrian conflict. Washington and Ankara are supporting different rebel factions seeking to oust Assad.

Western officials have previously said that Russia's bombing campaign in Syria, which began in September 2015, has largely targeted opponents of Assad other than IS.

The cease-fire announced by the Syrian Army on July 3 was not expected to include operations targeting IS militants.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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