US, Russia, 15 other nations agree to end violence in Syria

The United States and Russia, along with 15 other countries, agreed to a plan Thursday evening in Munich, Germany, to end the unconscionable violence in Syria and provide “humanitarian aid” to civilians on the ground.

Specifically, the document entitled “Action Group for Syria — Final Communiqué“, calls for a “cessation of hostilities” in the war-torn country, not including violence perpetrated by ISIS.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who announced the agreement along with Russian foreign minister Segei Lavrov, told reporters early Friday morning that a permanent end to the Syrian civil war would require regime change.

The first step towards achieving the ultimate goal of a cease-fire, however, was made by putting together a U.S.-Russia task force, which will begin work next week.

Air delivery of supplies to the war-stricken areas of Deir ez-Zor, Madaya, Mouadhimiyeh, and Kafr Batna, will start immediately.

One point of contention between members of the Syrian Support Group, which includes Western powers, along with China, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey, is Russian strikes against what the U.S. calls moderate rebel groups, but Moscow labels terrorists.

U.K. foreign secretary Philip Hammond stipulated that, “If this agreement is to work, (Russian) bombing will have to stop”.

Russian prime minister Dimitry Medvedev has already made controversial comments regarding a possible solution to ISIS’ presence in Syria.  Responding to the possibility of a U.S. led coalition to dispose the Islamic army, he said, “The Americans and our Arab partners must think hard about this — do they want a permanent war?”

Mr. Medvedev was implying that Russia wants a seat at the table to discuss any further actions in Syria, and sees any coalition in which they are excluded to be a threat.

Russia’s thinly veiled support of the Assad regime throughout the war makes implementation of the agreement to end “hostilities” very difficult, if not impossible.

The key question is whether the [Assad] regime will deliver land access to besieged areas“, an anonymous diplomat told The Guardian. “If the Russians top blowing up civilians and we see movement on access it might open the way to a resumption of the talks in Geneva . . . The problem is that a Kerry-Lavrov agreement doesn’t involve any of the actors on the ground. We need the Syrians on board.

A spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, the main Syrian opposition group, said that his outfit will agree to enter peace negotiations in Geneva, as the Communiqué calls for, “if we see action and implementation” of the plan.

Now almost five years old, the Syrian war has caused the deaths of 250,000, and has uprooted between 12 million and 13.5 million people.

 

[CNN] [BBC] [The Guardian]