Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura are pictured during a meeting of the ISSG on Feb. 11, 2016 in Munich, Germany.
Photo by Alexandra Beier/Pool/Getty

World powers agree to Syria ceasefire, Kerry says


Major world powers have reached an agreement on a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and diplomatic talks aimed at ending the years-long conflict there.

The deal announced in Munich in the early morning on Friday, local time, follows marathon talks with Russia and more than a dozen other countries.

It calls for a nationwide ceasefire, the swift expansion of humanitarian aid and the resumption of peace talks in Geneva as soon as possible.

“What we have here is on paper, but what we need to see is actions on the ground,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in announcing the agreement.

The agreement also called for the immediate acceleration and expansion of humanitarian aid to besieged parts of the country — like the city of Madaya,whose residents have been starving to death.

“Humanitarian access to these most urgent areas will be a first step toward full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country,” the International Syria Support Group said in a statement.

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The agreement calls for a ceasefire between forces fighting the Assad regime as well as those fighting in support of the government, but the international group acknowledged it would not be adhered to by terror groups like ISIS or al-Nusra Front.

The agreement calls for the ceasefire to commence in one week, after confirmation by the Syrian government and the opposition.

The U.S. and Russia would lead a task force which will determine a long term comprehensive and durable cessation of violence, of hostilities,” and the international group would immediately use its influence to decrease fighting, Kerry said.

“Ultimately, the end of this conflict will only come when the parties agree on a plan for a political transition,” Kerry said. “We have no illusions about how difficult that is,” Kerry said.

Russia has been conducting an air campaign against what it says are ISIS targets, but which observers have claimed has targeted forces opposing the Assad government.

U.K. Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said Russia must halt air strikes against the opposition if a cease-fire is to be successful.

“Russia, in particular, claims to be attacking terrorist groups and yet consistently bombs non-extremist groups including civilians,” Hammond said in a statement. “If this agreement is to work, this bombing will have to stop: no cessation of hostilities will last if moderate opposition groups continue to be targeted.”

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Syria’s tragic descent
Since 2011, Syria has plunged into a devastating civil war.