U.S. officials: Syria ceasefire 'better than expected'

Obama: Syria deal is not a ceasefire with ISIS
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Story highlights

  • U.S. officials expressed optimism regarding a very fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria
  • Less violence on the ground, though, has meant more humanitarian aid to people who have been

Washington (CNN)Almost a week into the very fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria, senior U.S. officials are expressing cautious optimism about its prospects.

One official described the progress as "better than expected" Wednesday and another said, "We're seeing the beginnings of progress" on both the military and humanitarian fronts.
    Officials also branded as credible the numerous reports that both the Syrian regime and Russia have violated the ceasefire terms, hitting targets other than ISIS or Al-Nusra, which are not a part of the multi-party deal.
    "Even one violation is too many," an official said, though they were expected, as Russia and Syria allegedly tried to take advantage of the lull shortly after the cessation went into effect last Saturday.
    Parties to the ceasefire have set up an extensive system for reporting and investigating of violations. The U.S. State Department has a team operating around the clock with multiple ways to get in touch, like Skype. Officials, though, were unaware of reports Wednesday raised by a journalist that some people trying to call in possible violations were met with operators who didn't understand Arabic.
    The truce ends up being "a test for Russia," a U.S. official said, to gauge its intent in ending the now years-long fighting that has sent some 4.5 million Syrians fleeing their country, and displaced another 6.5 million internally.
    Also an important test: how Russia and Syria will react when alleged violations are brought to their attention.
    Less violence on the ground, though, has meant more humanitarian aid to people who have been previously cut off. Since February 17, when the first aid to some of these areas started to trickle in, hundreds of truckloads of supplies have been allowed through -- reaching more than 100,000 civilians.
    U.S. officials are quick to recognize how difficult this process will continue to be, saying there has never been a ceasefire attempted in such a complex mix of war and outside influences -- which they branded the most complicated conflict of this generation.
    "It is very much under strain, it will remain fragile," a U.S. official said. "It will be a bumpy road."