NEW DELHI: Syria saw its first major airstrike since a fragile ceasefire was implemented in the country of Monday. 23 people, including nine children, were killed in four airstrikes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, an area not included in the ceasefire.

Russia and the United States -- who brokered the ceasefire -- immediately accused each other of the strikes. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said it was not clear which side was behind the airstrikes. Most of the casualties occurred when a school being used as a shelter for families displaced by the fighting was hit.

The town targeted in the strikes, Al-Mayadin in Deir Ezzor province, is held by the Islamic State, and the ceasefire implemented on Monday does not apply to areas held by the militant group. Thus, the airstrike is not seen as a violation of the ceasefire. However, it does demonstrate the fragility of the ceasefire and the nature of the war in Syria, as most of those killed were civilians, including nine children.

"We stand for every single civilian across Syria. This area is not part of the [ceasefire] agreement, but does that mean the blood of Syrian civilians is worthless in areas under ISIS control or any other areas across the country?" Syrian Observatory of Human Rights director Rami Abdulrahman said of the strike.

The Russia and the US, meanwhile, pointed fingers at each other. In a statement, the Russian ministry said that US-led "moderate opposition forces" had increased the "number of attacks on residential neighborhoods," and added that at the end of the ceasefires’ third day, "only the Syrian army observes silence mode." Washington, in turn, accused Moscow of not living up to its end of the deal.

The blame game comes hours after the ceasefire was extended for an additional 48 hours, after all sides agreed that the truce largely held for the first 48 hours after it was implemented on Monday. "There was agreement as a whole, despite sporadic reports of violence, the arrangement is holding and violence is significantly lower," US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said at a press briefing, adding that “as part of the conversation they agreed to extend the cessation for another 48 hours." "This recommitment will initially be for 48 hours, and, provided it holds, the US and Russia will discuss extensions, with the aim of achieving an indefinite extension to lower the violence," Toner said.

The decision came after US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke via telephone on Wednesday, and decided to extend the truce that had been implemented on Monday, September 12, as “sundown”, Damascus time.

The dip in fighting was corroborated by the UN, as the international organisation noted a “significant drop in violence” a full 24 hours after the landmark ceasefire agreement came into effect. "By early morning, every report we have been seeing indicates a significant drop in violence," the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told a news briefing at the UN Office at Geneva. “Today, calm seems to have prevailed across Hama, Latakia, Aleppo City and rural Aleppo and Idlib – with only some allegations of sporadic and geographically isolated incidents.”

The independent monitoring body, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also noted that no deaths from fighting had been reported in the first 48 hours of the truce.

Reports on the ground have confirmed the above, with sources in Aleppo -- one of the cities worst affected by fighting -- saying that the situation had “dramatically improved” with no airstrikes, while the capital, Damascus, and central Syria also remained calm with “reports limited to some clashes around Harasta between government and opposition forces.”

However, aid deliveries -- one of the key reasons for implementing the ceasefire -- still remain stuck on the Turkish border. Reports note that about twenty trucks loaded with food and other aid destined for the rebel held areas of Aleppo, where over 300,000 people remain trapped, were stuck at the border awaiting an all clear for the journey. The convoy was supposed to head into Aleppo on Wednesday, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon told the press that security arrangements were still not in place.

"I've urged the Russian government to make sure that they exercise influence on the Syrian government, and also the American side to make sure that Syrian armed groups, they also fully cooperate," Ban Ki Moon told a news conference on Wednesday.

Toner, at his press briefing, said that Russia would need to use its influence over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to ensure that humanitarian aid was delivered to besieged communities under the agreement. “We haven't seen the humanitarian access yet so we're still continuing to assess this, talking to the Russians,” he said, We're pressuring them to pressure the Assad regime.”

As part of the deal that brokered the ceasefire, there is to be joint US-Russian cooperation against jihadist groups such as the Islamic State and Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front). Moderate rebel groups and civilians in the areas held by them will see a pause in fighting, as aid deliveries will be carried out in these areas. President Assad will be in a stronger position as the US and Russia jointly tackle his most effective opponents, and the moderate groups observe a truce in fighting.

The deal was reached after months of negotiations in Geneva, and came into effect “at sundown” on September 12, Damascus time. In the event that the ceasefire holds for an entire week, Moscow and Washington will establish a Russian-US Joint Implementation Centre (JIG) that would serve the purpose of “delineation of territories controlled by Al-Nusra and opposition groups in the area of active hostilities."

Concerns relating to the ceasefire being upheld are linked to the fact that several such attempts have failed in the past. The most recent attempt at a ceasefire to fail was in January 2016, before which ceasefires in January 2014 and June 2012 had also failed.

The latest blame game once again demonstrates the fragility of the latest ceasefire.