International Community Vows to Seek Cessation of Hostilities in Syria

World | February 12, 2016, Friday // 09:05|  views

US State Secretary John Kerry (C), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) hold a press conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich. Photo: EPA

Following talks of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in Munich on Thursday, the participants committed themselves to implementing a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria.

The implementation of the ceasefire is set to begin in a week, with the cessation not applying to the fight against jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and the al-Nusra Front.

Ministers from ISSG also agreed to accelerate and expand humanitarian aid.

The news comes as the Syrian government forces supported by Russian airstrikes are advancing in the region of Aleppo, which threatens to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in rebel-held parts of the city.

Both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US State Secretary John Kerry admitted on several occasions that this was only progress on paper.

Kerry identified the plan as “ambitious”, saying that action was needed on ground, with the real test being whether the parties will fulfill their commitments.

He noted that Russian airstrikes are targeting what the West treats as moderate opposition rather than terrorists as Moscow claims.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond added that the ceasefire would only work if Russia halts its raids, which Lavrov said would continue.

Russia and the US will chair a task force which will work towards implementing the truce through consultations with the belligerents

The delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian communities is due to begin as early as on Friday.

An earlier proposal submitted by Russia foresaw a truce beginning on March 1.

The participants in ISSG also agreed that UN-mediated peace talks involving both representatives of the government and opposition should resume as soon as possible

The intra-Syrian peace talks were suspended only days after their official start earlier this month in Geneva.

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Tags: Syria, ISSG, ceasefire, cessation, peace, Russia, US, UN, Sergey Lavrov, John Kerry, Philip Hammond, IS, Al-Nusra Front, humanitarian aid, Aleppo, airstrikes, truce


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