Syrian children play on a slide at a park in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern edges of the capital Damascus on February 27, 2016, on the first day of the landmark ceasefire agreement. / AFP / Sameer Al-Doumy
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Syria's fragile ceasefire entered its second day Sunday, with battle-zones across the war-scarred country largely quiet for the first time in five years despite some sporadic breaches.The temporary truce, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is seen as a crucial step towards ending a conflict that has claimed 270,000 lives and displaced more than half the population. The ceasefire faces formidable challenges, however, particularly as it excludes the ISIS extremist group and Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front.Russia, which has waged nearly five months of intense air strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said it had halted bombing in all areas covered by the truce. Moscow has vowed to keep striking ISIS, Al-Nusra and other "terrorist groups", but said it grounded its warplanes in the Syria campaign on the first day of the truce to avoid potential "mistakes". Rebels also accused government forces of intermittent "truce violations".Syria's top opposition grouping, the High Negotiations Committee, said Friday that 97 opposition factions had agreed to respect the truce, for two weeks initially.
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