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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ceasefire Agreement for Syria, Sort of

World powers agree Syria ceasefire, says John Kerry
From BBC Middle East
The aftermath of airstrikes in rebel-held Aleppo  Reuters
The Syrian government has been closing in on
rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo

World powers meeting on Syria have agreed to seek a nationwide "cessation of hostilities" within a week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said.

But he said the halt would not apply to the fight with jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front.

So that means that the ceasefire, if arranged, would only apply to the battle between the Assad regime and the Syrian rebels. But it's a start, and it would mean that half the country could find itself in relative peace. Also, the various forces could concentrate on the IS and al-Nusra which could lead to a military settlement within a couple of years. Both results might effect the flow of migrants to Europe and elsewhere.

He also said the powers had agreed to immediately accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The announcement comes as the Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes, advances in Aleppo province.

The move threatens to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in rebel-held parts of the major city of Aleppo.

Mr Kerry admitted the ceasefire plan was "ambitious" and said the real test would be whether the parties honoured the commitments.

"What we have here are words on paper, what we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground," he said.

A UN task force will be set up to ensure humanitarian access is granted to all sides, Mr Kerry added.

He made the announcement alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

Mr Lavrov said there were "reasons to hope we have done a great job today".

At the press conference Mr Kerry again suggested that Russian strikes were targeting opposition forces, rather than terrorists as Moscow says.

But both men agreed that peace talks involving the Syrian government and rebels should resume as soon as possible.