A boy rides a bicycle past a man sitting on rubble of a damaged house in the rebel held historic southern town of Bosra al-Sham, Deraa, Syria February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
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After five years of bloodshed and hundreds of thousands of deaths, Syria's unlikely cessation of hostilities could make or break international efforts to end the war. In Washington, it is hard to find anyone who believes that the guns will truly fall silent Saturday, and U.S. officials portray the truce as a test of Russia's true support for the peace process.But, despite Secretary of State John Kerry's talk of a mysterious "Plan B" if the peace is shattered or talks on a political transition fail, the U.S. has little leverage over a confident Russia.Under a deal laboriously agreed by Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, the unlikely co-sponsors of international peace efforts, a cessation of hostilities came into effect early Saturday. Obama warned that extremists like Daesh will certainly fight on, but U.S. officials also expect Russian and Syrian forces to breach the truce.Kerry has not detailed the new strategy, which would have to be approved by Obama, but privately officials suggest Plan B could involve greater U.S. military intervention in Syria.Some experts scoff at this analysis, however, arguing that Obama has no appetite for deeper U.S. military intervention and Russia faces no credible threat if it continues to batter anti-Assad rebels.
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