US and Russia reach deal on Syrian ceasefire, UN pledges support
The US and Russia have announced a plan for cessation of hostilities in Syria, which is scheduled to take effect today at sundown.
The announcement follows a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
State-run al-Ikhbariya TV reported that the Syrian regime announced its support of the ceasefire deal.
John Kerry said that “if the plan is 'implemented in good faith' it will reduce violence, ease suffering, and help move towards a negotiated peace and a political transition in Syria."
Under the plan, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air force will not fly combat missions anywhere where the opposition is present. Kerry noted that the air strikes have been the main driver of civilian casualties and migration flows.
The second step will see the US and Russia work together to develop military strikes against Nusrah, which is al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria.
Thirdly, both the countries have called on all sides to ‘recommit to a nationwide cessation of hostilities’ and unobstructed delivery of humanitarian goods.
Kerry further noted that if the cessation of hostilities remains in effect for seven days, preparatory work will begin to establish a joint implementation centre that will be used to defeat ISIS and Nusrah.
In a statement, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura said: “The UN hopes that the political will that led to this understanding is sustained.
“It creates a real window of opportunity which all relevant actors in the region and beyond should seize to put the crisis in Syria on a different path and ease the violence and suffering being endured by the Syrian people.”
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the violence in Syria has displaced 6.1 million people internally and left some 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Image: A woman holding a baby on the streets of Syria. Photo: courtesy of WFP / Hussam Al Saleh.