The United Nations Security Council on Saturday (31 December) approved a resolution to support Russia and Turkey's efforts to put an end to the brutal conflict in Syria and kickstart peace negotiations.
The resolution drafted by Russia was adopted unanimously by the 15-member council at a meeting in New York. It called for "rapid, safe and unhindered" humanitarian aid delivery throughout Syria. The resolution also paves the way for talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Kazakhstan's capital Astana in January.
Moscow and Ankara lead a ceasefire deal which has mostly held since Thursday but according to Reuters, air raids and clashes continued in some places.
In the Syrian coastal city of Tartous, at least two security officers were killed and many others were injured after two suicide bombers blew themselves up.
Rebel factions belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an alliance of rebels that does not include radical extremists, said regime forces and Hezbollah fighters had launched air strikes in the rebel-held Wadi Barada area, northwest of Damascus but the attacks in the area stopped just minutes before the 8pm deadline, Osama Abu Zeid, FSA's legal adviser said.
A rebel group statement said: "Continued violations by the regime and bombardment and attempts to attack areas under the control of the revolutionary factions will make the agreement null and void."
The new deal for cessation of hostilities applies throughout Syria but it excludes Islamic State (Isis) militants, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and the Kurdish YPG militia.
The final draft of the UN resolution dropped the word "endorsed" and instead said that the UN Security Council "welcomes and supports" Russian and Turkish efforts to stop the conflict in Syria. It stated that the meeting in Kazakhstan is "an important step ahead of the resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 8 Feb, 2017."
Russia and Turkey support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Moscow and Tehran provide military support to Assad while Turkey served as a base and a source of supplies for the rebels.