Middle East

Syria jihadists raise rebel banner in truce suburb

A rebel fighter (L) speaks to a woman wearing military fatigue (R) in the town of Babbila, a suburb of Damascus, during a cease fire agreement between the group controlling the town and the regime on February 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO /LOUAI BESHARA

BEIRUT: Three days after rebels and the Syrian army agreed a truce at Babbila near Damascus, jihadists said they rejected the deal and hauled down and trampled on Syria's flag Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) -- the most radical group in Syria's revolt -- "announced their rejection of any armistice" with the authorities.

Video footage showed ISIS members tearing down regime flags hoisted above the Babbila municipality building during the truce and replacing them with the black banner of the jihadists.

They then trampled on and set fire to the country's flag.

On Monday, the army and rebels agreed a truce in the capital's southern suburb, the latest in a series of local ceasefires in Damascus flashpoints.

The deal came as peace talks in the so-called Geneva II process in Switzerland ground to a halt without making progress or agreeing on a new date to meet.

After more than 18 months of fierce fighting in and around the capital, troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels arrived at a compromise under which neither side could claim victory.

Sources in the security services and the rebels both said the agreement would allow the entry of food into besieged districts.

Under the accord, the rebels were to hand over heavy weaponry and the regime flag was to be raised.





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