Syria's fragile ceasefire has brought a notable reduction in hostilities for the first time in the five-year civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people, displaced half of Syria's population and flooded Europe with refugees. The truce appears to be holding, despite violations reported in many areas, with the opposition and the Syrian government blaming each other.

The cessation of hostilities has brought some respite to civilians, particularly from air strikes. Life is regaining some sense of normality in rebel-held areas. Residents of Douma and Aleppo have begun carrying out much-needed repairs to homes, business and infrastructure destroyed by years of bombardment.

Syria ceasefire
A barber cuts the hair of a customer outside his damaged salon in the rebel held town of al-GhariyahAlaa Al-Faqir/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A man selling candy floss pushes his bicycle along a street in the rebel held town of al-Ghariyah, in Deraa provinceAlaa Al-Faqir/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A boy helps to fix damaged water pipes in the rebel held al-Ghariyah town, in Deraa provinceAlaa Al-Faqir/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A worker fixes damaged electricity cables in the rebel held al-Ghariyah town, in Deraa provinceAlaa Al-Faqir/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
Residents fix a damaged shop in the town of Darat Izza, province of AleppoAmmar Abdullah/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A man rides his bicycle past a vendor selling grains during a halt in fighting in Douma, a rebel-held area east of DamascusSameer al-Doumy/AFP
Syria ceasefire
A boy shops at a vegetable stall in the northern Syrian city of AleppoKaram al-Masri/AFP

The cessation deal does not include jihadist groups such as Islamic State and the Nusra Front. Russia, which is backing the Syrian government with air power, has made clear it intends to keep bombing these groups. US Secretary of State John Kerry said he agreed with his Russian counterpart to work on a mechanism to ensure any strikes in Syria solely target Islamic State or Nusra Front.

The cessation of hostilities is meant to accelerate peace talks and allow aid to reach besieged communities. Syrian Red Crescent trucks have begun delivering aid to areas that have been cut off by the fighting, such as Al-Moaddamyeh, a town to the southwest of Damascus.

The United Nations plans multiple aid operations and hopes to expand the humanitarian aid coverage to more than 150,000 besieged Syrians, said Yacoub El Hillo, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria. He said the UN hopes to expand the coverage of humanitarian aid to 1.7 million Syrians before the end of March, if the ceasefire holds.

Kerry welcomed the news that aid has reached thousands of Syrians, but he criticised Syrian troops and officials for reportedly blocking some deliveries and stealing from others. He says the government should "try to show some measure of decency, if that is even possible."

Syria ceasefire
Female fighters from the mainly-Kurdish Democratic Forces of Syria use a tablet in al-Shadadi town, in Hasaka provinceRodi Said/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A man inspects a shirt belonging his son, who died after an airstrike in the rebel-held besieged city of DoumaBassam Khabieh/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
A boy inspects a damaged house in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, east of DamascusBassam Khabieh/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
An Ahrar Souriya brigade fighter, part of the Free Syrian Army, rests near sandbags in al-Tamorah village mountains near the villages of Nubul and al-Zahraa, northern Aleppo countrysideAbdalrhman Ismail/Reuters
Syria ceasefire
Members of Syria's emergency services relax as the ceasefire continues to hold in AleppoKaram al-Masri/AFP
Syria ceasefire
A member of the Syrian emergency service smokes at their centre in the Bab al-Nairab neighbourhood of AleppoKaram al-Masri/AFP
Syria ceasefire
Rebel fighters from the Failaq al-Rahman brigade take a break as they hide inside a building in the rebel-controlled village of Bala, in the eastern Ghouta regionAbdukmonam Eassa/AFP
Syria ceasefire
Children play in a park in the rebel-held town of Douma, near DamascusSameer al-Doumy/AFP
Syria ceasefire
Children walk past heavily damaged buildings in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern edges of DamascusSameer al-Doumy/AFP
Syria ceasefire
A Syrian government billboard encouraging people to join its armed forces is seen in DamascusLouai Beshara/AFP
Syria ceasefire
Men play backgammon at a cafe in DamascusLouai Beshara/AFP
Syria ceasefire
A man smokes a water-pipe at a cafe in the capitalLouai Beshara/AFP
Syria ceasefire
Rebel fighters from the Failaq al-Rahman brigade rest in their shelter in the town of Arbin in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of DamascusAmer Almohibany/AFP

The truce comes at a time when Assad's military has cut most supply routes to Aleppo, Syria's largest city and its commercial capital before the war. The city, the capital of Aleppo province, has been split into government- and opposition-controlled parts since 2012.