Key points in US-Russia truce deal on Syria
A Syrian ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia is set to come into force Monday at sundown, but opposition forces have yet to sign on to the truce.
The accord aims to freeze fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces — which have backed the deal — and the armed opposition, but does not apply to jihadists.
Here are the main points of the agreement, which could also see the first joint military campaign by Moscow and Washington against jihadist groups, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
– An initial 48-hour ceasefire is set to begin at 7:00 pm local time (1600 GMT) on Monday and, if successful, can be renewed for another 48 hours at a time, Lavrov said.
– Simultaneously both sides will ensure “unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to all of the besieged and the hard-to-reach areas, including Aleppo” city, where both sides will ensure aid can travel along two key access routes running from the north and south into the divided city.
– The Syrian regime is to refrain from flying “combat missions anywhere where the opposition is present in an area that we have agreed on with very real specificity”, Kerry said, without detailing the areas concerned.
– In many areas, rebel forces are allied with the Fateh al-Sham Front, Al-Qaeda’s former ally, which is excluded from the ceasefire deal.
– If the truce holds for one week, the United States and Russia “would then work together to develop military strikes against” jihadists such as the Islamic State (IS) group and Fateh al-Sham.
– The deal requires both sides “halting all attacks, including aerial bombardments and any attempts to gain additional territory at the expense of the parties to the cessation”, Kerry said.
– From Monday, the US and Russia will begin “sharing of information necessary for the delineation of territories controlled by (Fateh al-Sham) and opposition groups in the area of active hostilities”.
– Coordinated strikes on jihadists –
– If the ceasefire holds for a week, “then US and Russian experts will work together to defeat” Fateh al-Sham and IS, Kerry said.
– These measures can only be implemented if “groups within the legitimate opposition… distance themselves in every way possible from” the two jihadist groups, he said.
– According to Lavrov, coordinated strikes against the jihadists will be carried out by US and Russian planes in specific areas. “The Syrian air forces will be functional in other areas,” he said, without specifying where.
– According to the US special envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney, any violations would be dealt with “based on the original truce agreement” reached in late February, which charged Moscow and Washington with jointly evaluating reported truce violations.
– Russia and Lavrov “have the capability to press the Assad regime to stop this conflict and to come to the table and make peace”, Kerry said.
– And after a “period of reduced violence… we will facilitate a political transition, which is the only way to bring about a durable end to this war”.
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