With hours to go before a cease-fire was set to take effect, a defiant Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed Monday in a statement broadcast on state-run TV to “reclaim every area from the terrorists.” The new cease-fire, brokered by Russia and the United States, is expected to begin Monday evening. It’s still unclear if rebel factions, who have expressed reservations about the agreement, will abide by the deal, as shelling was reported in Aleppo. In a rare public appearance, Assad attended prayers at a mosque in a newly surrendered Damascus suburb on Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to the cease-fire in Geneva over the weekend. It stipulates an initial “pause” in fighting between all sides in order to make way for humanitarian aid. Eventually, according to the complex deal, the U.S. and Russia would coordinate airstrikes against militants inside the country.
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