US, Russia agree for cessation of hostilities in Syria

US and Russia reach deal on cessation of hostilities in Syria to start Feb. 27, excluding DAESH and Nusra Front

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US and Russia agree on deal for cessation of hostilities in Syria to start Feb. 27, excluding DAESH, Nusra Front.

Updated Feb 23, 2016

US and Russia have agreed on a draft to call for a cessation of hostilities in Syria to begin on Feb. 27 but to exclude DAESH terrorists and al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front, two Western diplomatic sources said on Monday.

The deal will not include DAESH, the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and any other militias designated as terrorist group by the UN Security Council. Both the US and Russia continue to target those terrorist groups with air strikes in Syria.   

Syrian opposition coordinator Riad Hijab also said on Monday there was a provisional agreement on a temporary truce in Syria, according to the pro-Syrian opposition Orient TV.   

Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister who heads the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee, said the deal would be "according to international guarantees."

The High Negotiations committee met in Saudi Arabia on Monday to discuss a US-Russian plan to implement "cessation of hostilities."

The United States was involved in brokering part of this deal, however, TRTWorld reporter Colin Campbell at the United Nations says that “UN involvement is not true” after he contacted the office of UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura. His spokesperson said the UN was not involved in this agreement and that it is a deal strictly between the US and Russia. 

The cessation of hostilities will commence at 00:00 (Damascus time) on February 27, 2016, according to a joint statement of the United States and Russia. 

The deal comes days before United Nations peace talks in Geneva which are aimed at ending the five-year-long civil war in Syria.

The war has killed at least 470,000 Syrians and injured 1,900,000 others which made up nearly 11.5 percent of the Syrian population, according to a report which was released by the Syrian Center for Policy Research on February 10. 

However ,the report has dwarfed the United Nations’ last death toll figures of 250,000.

The war also created Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II and allowed DAESH to carve out territory across Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Geneva talks had previously started at the beginning of February, however it was postponed to a few days after because preconditions by the main Syrian opposition were not met by the Syrian regime. 

Before the talks had started, the Higher Negotiation Committee, which represents the main Syrian opposition against Bashar al Assad, put forward demands such as imposing a ceasefire, opening humanitarian corridors to besieged areas and releasing prisoners.

On Feb. 11, foreign ministers from 17 countries met in Munich agreed to implement a "cessation of hostilities" and to immediately accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian towns and villages. 

That agreement called for a truce by Feb. 19, however the deadline was missed because Syrian regime’s strongest ally Russia continued bombing targets in Syria.

TRTWorld, Reuters