The new ceasefire in Syria will not mean an end to the shooting, but it marks a crucial development in the five-and-a-half year long civil war. It will not stop the killing because the biggest armed opposition groups — Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra — are not covered by the agreement, and have a strong motive for making sure that it fails. But what is most important about the ceasefire, which began on Thursday night and appeared at first to be taking hold, is not so much what is agreed as who is doing the agreeing.
According to a draft copy of the Russian-Turkish agreement, the Turkish government “guarantees the commitment of the opposition in all the areas that the opposition controls to the ceasefire, including any type of shelling”. Russia gives similar guarantees on behalf of the Syrian government and its allies.