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Calm returns as ceasefire goes into effect in southern Syria (Lead)

Damascus, July 9 (IANS) Calm returned to a war-torn southern Syria as a ceasefire agreement reached between the US and Russia went into effect on Sunday.

The ceasefire agreement backed by the US and Russia is holding up well in the areas of Daraa, Sweida and Quanitera, a well informed source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In Daraa, people resumed their daily routines like shopping at market-places and enjoying the calm that has been brought by the ceasefire, the source said, adding that people in this conflict-affected area are still afraid of any breach that could restart the battle.

As for the nearby province of Sweida, the source said the city and its countryside are in complete calm, as clashes centred in the southwestern countryside of that province, near Daraa.

In Quanitera, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the tension also eases, except for regions under the control of the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which is excluded from the ceasefire pact.

The source said the Syrian army on Sunday had captured two areas earlier stormed by the Nusra militants near the al-Baath city in Qunaitera countryside.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States and Russia had reached ceasefire agreement to quell fighting in southwest Syria.

He said the agreement, if it holds, may be a blueprint for other parts of the country. “This area in the south is our first show of success. We hope we can replicate that elsewhere,” he said.

The ceasefire is part of the de-escalation zones’ deal, which went into force last May in four Syrian areas including the southern part of Syria, where battles flared up again, prompting the United States and Russia to agree to a ceasefire.

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