Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cessation of hostilities agreement comes into effect in Syria

Members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution to endorse the agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria.

Backed by Russia and the United States, the agreement came into effect at midnight Damascus time on Feb. 27 (2200 GMT Friday) in all Syrian cities. But it excludes the Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, as both are listed by the UN as terrorist groups.

The UN Security Council demanded that all parties to whom the agreement applies fulfill their commitments, according to the resolution.

It also urged all member states, especially the members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), "to use their influence with the parties to the cessation of hostilities to ensure fulfillment of those commitments and to support efforts to create conditions for a durable and lasting ceasefire."

Welcoming the cessation of hostilities as a step towards a lasting ceasefire, the council stressed "the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process."

On humanitarian assistance, the council called for rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian agencies throughout Syria so that all people in need, particularly those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, can get immediate humanitarian assistance.

A new round of Syria talks will be held on March 7 if the cessation of hostilities "largely holds," said UN Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on Friday.

The UN-led talks, aimed at brokering a political solution between Syrian warring factions, namely Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and opposition forces, were halted on Feb. 3 after parties failed to see eye to eye on a number of issues.

According to UN figures, 110,000 people in besieged areas in Syria have been provided with vital humanitarian aid since talks were put on hold three weeks ago.

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