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The Syrian military just extended a ceasefire, but Syrians are still dying

The previous truce came and went with no noticeable decrease in violence across the country, and government forces are advancing in Aleppo.

by VICE News and Reuters
Jul 9 2016, 2:55pm

The Syrian military has extended a nationwide ceasefire which expired on Friday for another 72 hours, state media reported.

In a statement, the Syrian military command declared the extension of the temporary ceasefire — which it described as "a regime of calm" — effective from 1 am local time on Saturday.

The previous 72-hour truce — which was agreed on by rebel alliance the Free Syrian Army but not by other factions including Jabhat al Nusra, the local offshoot of al Qaeda, and the Islamic State — ran until midnight on Friday. Although it led to no noticeable decrease in violence, it was significant because it was the first attempt at a nationwide ceasefire since foreign powers tried to broker peace talks back in February to end the bloody five-year long civil war.

The Syrian army and the Russian military, which also backs president Bashar al Assad, have periodically announced a number of temporary localized truces in areas of intense fighting. But violence and airstrikes have often continued regardless of those declarations.

Related: The Syrian army is using bombs to cut the only road into rebel-held Aleppo

During this week's truce, Syrian government forces advanced towards the Castello Road, the only route leading to the side of Aleppo which is under occupation by rebel forces. Their advances brought the strategically important road — Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and its commercial center — within closer firing range and trapped between 250,000 and 300,000 people in the process. They also seized territory from rebels east of Damascus.

In that same 72-hour period, dozens were killed and injured by rebel shelling in the government-held parts of Aleppo and air strikes on a holiday spot in Idlib province. 50 people were killed on the previous ceasefire's last day.