The ceasefire that began in February in Syria is close to collapsing, say those in the conflict.
Rebel fighters and politicians opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been working together to unseat him. After five years, the United States and Russia negotiated a ceasefire.
But activists say government and Russian forces violated the ceasefire at least 66 times during a recent 48-hour period. They say almost 100 people -- including seven children and five women -- were killed in government airstrikes.
The rebels say they expect the government to attack them in the city of Aleppo.
Bassma Kodmani negotiates for the rebels. Peace talks are to begin in Geneva, Switzerland this week. On Sunday, he warned that over the previous 10 days there had been a “serious deterioration to the point where the ceasefire is about to collapse.”
Both the government and rebels have blamed each other for violating the ceasefire. United Nations officials have said the government has stopped aid to some important towns held by the rebels.
There was a sharp increase in fighting during the weekend. On Monday, Islamic State terrorists took back an important town in northern Syria. The town of al-Rai, close to the border with Turkey, was captured by the militants.
Observers said rebels failed in al-Rai because fighter jets flown by an international coalition failed to support them.
Since the end of March, rebels have seized 12 villages from Islamic State militants. The villages are near the Syria-Turkey border. IS did not agree to the ceasefire, which took effect February 27.
On Monday, rebel groups launched attacks in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. The coastal province of Latakia is controlled by the Alawite sect. Assad is an Alawite.
If the ceasefire collapses, peace talks may not take place. Little progress was made in earlier talks. The major issue is the future of President Assad. The rebels say he must leave office and not be part of any transition government.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
Jamie Dettmer reported this story for VOANews.com. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
unseat - v. to remove (someone or something) from a position of power
deterioration – n. the act or process of becoming worse
sect – n. a religious group that is a smaller part of a larger group and whose members all share similar beliefs
transition – adj. a change from one state or condition to another