The Syrian government announced on Monday, July 3, that it would suspend combat operations in southern Syria until Thursday, July 5, ahead of a new round of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. However, just hours after the announcement, witnesses reported Syrian jets dropping barrel bombs on rebel-held areas in the southern city of Daraa, near the Jordanian border. Rebels have claimed the ceasefire is a ploy to get the opposition to attend peace talks this week.
Russian-sponsored peace talks are set to resume in Astana on Tuesday, July 4. The last round of Astana talks in May led to an agreement between Iran, Russia, and Turkey that created four de-escalation zones in Syria.
Syria is enmeshed in a complex civil war that started between the Assad government and opposition forces in March 2011. Today, the conflict in Syria involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Jordanian government, the Turkish government, the Russian government, a United States-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.
Multiple rounds of negotiations to establish a political solution to the civil war have taken place in Geneva. More recently, Russia-initiated rounds of peace talks have taken place in Astana but do not include a US delegation as an active participant.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some countries banning all travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to the country.