Featured photo courtesy of AFP Photo/Georges Ourfalian

Damascus (AFP) – Fighting subsided across much of Syria Saturday as the first major ceasefire of the devastating five-year war appeared to broadly hold despite sporadic breaches in parts of the battle-scarred country.

The truce, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is seen as a crucial step towards ending a conflict that has claimed 270,000 lives and displaced more than half the population.

A special international task force co-chaired by the United States and Russia hailed the ceasefire.

“The United Nations, the United States and Russia have made a positive assessment of the first hours of the cessation of hostilities,” a western diplomat said after a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in Geneva.

The UN reported “some incidents” in apparent violation of the truce, but “they have been defused”, he said.

“We really need to wait for Sunday and Monday in order to make a full assessment,” the source added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry “hailed” the ceasefire in a phone call and discussed ways of supporting it through cooperation between their militaries, Russia’s foreign ministry said.