US, Russia agree Syria truce holding, extend it by 48 hours

The United States and Russia agreed that the Syrian cessation of hostilities that began on Monday had largely held and should be extended for another 48 hours despite sporadic violence, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday. The cessation of hostilities, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday, went into effect on Monday night.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Kerry and Lavrov had spoken by telephone earlier on Wednesday and agreed it was worth extending the truce. Under the deal, the United States and Russia are aiming for reduced violence over seven consecutive days before they move to the next stage of coordinating military strikes against Nusra Front and Islamic State militants, which are not party to the truce.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ruusian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint press conference in Geneva [10/9/2016]
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ruusian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint press conference in Geneva [10/9/2016]

“There was agreement that as a whole, despite sporadic reports of violence, the arrangement is holding, and violence is significantly lower in comparison with previous days and weeks,” Toner told a briefing. “As part of the conversation they agreed to extend the cessation for another 48 hours,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict through contacts on the ground, said no deaths from fighting had been reported in the first 48 hours of the truce.

“This recommitment will initially be for 48 hours, and, provided it holds, the U.S. and Russia will discuss extensions, with the aim of achieving an indefinite extension to lower the violence,” Toner explained later. He said Russia needed 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.”

Two aid convoys, each of around 20 trucks carrying mostly food and flour, that were headed for the city of Aleppo have been held up since crossing the Turkish border, according to United Nations and other officials. The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Tuesday the United Nations was waiting for Damascus to issue letters authorizing the aid deliveries, which are desperately needed in Aleppo, the scene of Syria’s fiercest fighting in recent months. The U.N. has estimated that well over half a million people are living under siege in Syria.

Source: Reuters

Advertisements

US and Russia agree cessation of hostilities in Aleppo

The US State Department announced Wednesday evening that an agreement has been reached with Russia to extend a ceasefire in Syria to Aleppo province and the city of Aleppo.

As part of our urgent efforts to de-escalate violence in Syria and reaffirm the Cessation of Hostilities nationwide, the United States and Russia concluded arrangements late yesterday to extend this effort to Aleppo province, including Aleppo city and its surrounding areas. Since this went into effect today at 00:01 in Damascus, we have seen an overall decrease in violence in these areas, even though there have been reports of continued fighting in some locations.

To ensure this continues in a sustainable way, we are coordinating closely with Russia to finalize enhanced monitoring efforts of this renewed cessation. We expect all parties to the Cessation of Hostilities to abide fully by the renewed cessation in Aleppo and throughout the entire country, pursuant to the terms of the arrangements established in Munich in February 2016. Attacks directed against Syria’s civilian population can never be justified, and these must stop immediately.

We look to Russia as a co-chair of the International Syria Support Group to press for the Assad regime’s compliance with this effort, and the United States will do its part with the opposition. Following the regime’s overnight airstrikes against Eastern Ghouta, we welcome today’s reaffirmation of the cessation in Eastern Ghouta for the next 48 hours. It is critical that Russia redouble its efforts to influence the regime to abide fully by the cessation.

Our objective remains, and has always been, a single nationwide cessation of hostilities covering all of Syria – not a series of local truces. We are determined to reaffirm the Cessation of Hostilities across Syria and will continue expanding this effort so we can de-escalate the violence, alleviate the suffering, and help create the conditions that enable the parties to resume negotiations focused on a political transition, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique.

Source: US Department of State