Daily Management Review

‘Cessation of Hostilities’ in Syria Agreed Upon by Major Powers


‘Cessation of Hostilities’ in Syria Agreed Upon by Major Powers
In order to provide rapid humanitarian access to besieged Syrian towns, major powers agreed on Friday to a cessation of hostilities in Syria set to begin in a week. However there was no  decision on complete ceasefire or an end to Russian bombing.
The powers, including the United States, Russia and more than a dozen other nations, reaffirmed their commitment to a political transition when conditions on the ground improved following a marathon meeting in Munich aimed at resurrecting peace talks that collapsed last week.
The Munich meeting produced commitments on paper only, admitted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference.
"What we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground, in the field," he said, adding that "without a political transition, it is not possible to achieve peace," he said.
Russia would not stop air attacks in Syria, saying the cessation of hostilities did not apply to Islamic State and al Nusrah, which is affiliated with al Qaeda said the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the news conference. Islamic State militants control large parts of Syria and Iraq
"Our airspace forces will continue working against these organizations," he said.
The vast majority of the Russian strikes were hitting Western-backed opposition groups seeking to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad government and very few strikes have targeted those terrorist groups, alleged the United States and European allies.
All Syrian opposition groups should participate in peace talks which should resume in Geneva as soon as possible, Lavrov said. Halting hostilities would be a difficult task, he added.
Ending fighting could only succeed if Russia stopped air strikes supporting Syrian government forces' advance against the opposition, said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Russia was pushing for a military victory and until now not demonstrated any interest in seeing Assad replaced until now not demonstrated any interest in seeing Assad replaced, cautioned diplomats.
If powers failed to negotiate an end to five years of fighting in Syria there was  a specter of an interminable conflict or even a world war said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday. More than 250,000 people have been killed so far in the five year old Syrian conflict which has  caused a refugee crisis and empowered Islamic State militants.
Syria's main opposition group welcomed the plan by the world powers on Friday.
The agreement must prove to be effective before it joins political talks with government representatives in Geneva, cautioned the opposition group.
The momentum in the fight between the government and opposition forces has swung in favor of Assad ever since last October with Russia's intervention on the battlefield on behalf of Assad. The government forces and allies have, in the last few weeks managed to rout rebels and come close to encircling Aleppo, a divided city half held by rebels for years.
"The Russians said they will continue bombing the terrorists. They are taking a political risk because they are accepting a negotiation in which they are committing to a cessation of hostilities. If in a week there is no change because of their bombing, then they will bear the responsibility," a senior French diplomat said.

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