Syria: Blasts continue amid efforts to maintain fragile ceasefire

Diplomats are trying to ensure a fragile ceasefire in Syria holds, as violations continued to be reported in parts of the country.

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers, reporting from Damascus, said a loud explosion could be heard in the east of the Syrian capital on Monday.

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NATO: Concern over Russian military build-up in Syria

A temporary halt to the fighting in Syria appears to be largely holding although there is concern by a Russian military build-up in the country, NATO's Secretary General has said.

Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Kuwait that the build-up had been "significant" with Russian ground troops, naval forces, and air forces conducting strikes.

He also said there had been some reports of breaches of the temporary truce, although stated that it was "encouraging" that the ceasefire was being respected by most sides.

France said that it had information about fresh attacks on some areas held by moderate rebels.

It called for an immediate meeting of the Syria task force to discuss the violations of the "cessation of hostilities" that came into effect on Friday.

The internationally backed agreement is the first deal of its kind since the conflict began in 2011. Credit: Reuters

This agreement and the full implementation of the agreement is the best possible basis for renewing the efforts to find a political negotiated peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.

– Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

The deal is less binding than a formal ceasefire and does not include the so-called Islamic State or the al-Qaeda linked, al-Nusra.

Syrian army retakes town of Khanasser from Islamic State

The Syrian army has retaken the strategic town of Khanasser after a brief incursion by so-called Islamic State, according to sources.

Syrian radio reported on Sunday that Islamic State militants had recaptured the town, which lies on a key government supply route to Aleppo, just a week after the Syrian army had supposedly secured it.

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers, who has been reporting from Homs, tweeted that the town had been retaken by regime forces, although said that the road to Aleppo was still not secure.

Khanasser lies about 31 miles south-east of Aleppo.


Coalition carries out strikes against IS targets

The temporary truce in Syria does not apply to Islamic State. Credit: Reuters/Library

The US-led coalition carried out operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq on Sunday.

The coalition's military forces used ground-attack, fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft against the targets.

In Syria, 12 attacks were carried out, and in Iraq, forces also conducted a further 12 strikes supported by Iraq's government.

The targets included gas and oil plants, buildings, vehicles and sniper positions.

The attacks were part of an ongoing campaign to destroy IS targets and limit the group's ability to undertake further terror operations.

Although there is a temporary "cessation of hostilities" in Syria, the internationally-backed agreement does not apply to the militant Islamist groups of Islamic State and al-Nusra.

All aircraft returned to their base safely.

Isis fighters 'retake Syrian town of Khanasser'

Fighters with the so-called Islamic State have recaptured the Syrian town of Khanasser, according to Syrian radio.

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers, reporting from Homs, said the reported fall of the town comes "only a week" since the Syrian army supposedly secured it.

IS fighters originally captured Khanasser on 23 February.

Saudi blames Russia and Syria for ceasefire violations

The truce, agreed between America and Russia, only came into force yesterday Credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia has accused Russia and the Syrian government of violating the ceasefire which only came into force one day ago.

Speaking at a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir claims the respective air forces violated the cessation of hostilities.

He warned there would be a "plan B" if it became clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and its allies were not serious about the truce.

"There are breaches of the truce by the Russian air force and the regime and we are now consulting on this matter with the countries of Syria's support group, and I think that the commitment to the truce will be an important indicator of the seriousness of the Syrian regime," Mr Jubeir said.

Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, also speaking at the conference, called for a "strong alliance" to put military pressure on the Assad regime to help end the war in Syria.

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