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Rare access to rebel-held Aleppo
02:05 - Source: CNN

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A CNN team gained exclusive access to rebel-held territory around Aleppo, Syria

CNN's Clarissa Ward was on the ground when "cessation of hostilities" came into effect

Aleppo, Syria CNN  — 

There has been a dramatic decrease in airstrikes around Syria’s rebel-held territory since a truce negotiated between Syrian rebels and the government went into effect.

But on the ground, where CNN has had rare access over the past week, few are celebrating, with many residents suspecting a trick, and some claiming the “cessation in hostilities” is a betrayal of those who have given their lives in the uprising.

Syria’s cessation of hostilities explained

CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward traveled to rebel-held territory around Aleppo days ahead of the agreed break in fighting to witness the impact it had once it was implemented Friday.

She is virtually the only Western journalist to have gone to the area – heavily bombarded in recent months by Russian airstrikes in support of pro-regime forces – in more than a year.

The cessation of hostilities between a handful of rebel groups and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began Friday, excluding terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Nusra Front.

But the truce has not seen the airstrikes stop completely. When Ward’s team visited the town of Darat Izza on Aleppo’s outskirts, locals said there had been an airstrike on a house about 30 hours after the truce went into effect.

And while Ward said the number of airstrikes has slowed dramatically since the cessation of hostilities began, residents are far from optimistic.

“Firstly, in the run-up to this cessation of hostilities there was a dramatic increase in the intensiveness … of Russian aerial bombardment and also of the regime warplanes of Bashar al-Assad,” she said, adding she had witnessed a Russian airstrike on a market that killed at least eight people days before the truce.

“Secondly, the people living in rebel territory don’t trust the Assad regime and see this cessation of hostilities as a trick designed so that the regime can take more territory,” she said.

“For that reason, many people we’ve spoken to are in fact actually against the ceasefire.”