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Russia, US reach agreement on ceasefire in Syria

Russia, US reach agreement on ceasefire in Syria
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The agreement was announced by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. “Today we are announcing an arrangement that we think has the capability of sticking but it is dependent on people’s choices,” Kerry said.

The deal would include steps that would stop the Syrian regime from flying combat missions where opposition forces are operating, Kerry said, adding that the two countries are calling on the opposition and regime to recommit to the cease-fire on September 12.

Kerry told reporters in Geneva that the deal, if implemented could be the “turning point” for the conflict. The Pentagon here welcomed the agreement.

“If implemented, the arrangement negotiated by Secretary Kerry could achieve a sustained cessation of hostilities, help ease the suffering of the Syrian people and address the immediate humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo,” the Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.

“This preliminary understanding now requires the Russians and the regime to carry out a number of very specific steps, including, importantly, a sustained cessation of hostilities for at least seven days,” he said in a statement.

“Those commitments must be fully met before any potential military cooperation can occur. We will be watching closely the implementation of this understanding in the days ahead,” Cook said.

Kerry told reporters that “bedrock” of the agreement, is Russia s ensuring that Assad’s air force will no longer fly combat missions over opposition and civilian areas.

“This step is absolutely essential. By all accounts, Assad air attacks have been the main driver of civilian casualties and migration flows out of Syria,” he said. “That should put an end to the barrel bombs, an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighbourhoods,” he added.

“It is the primary responsibility of the leading  powers, first of all Russia and the United States to do everything to create the necessary conditions to settle this very difficult conflict despite all the problems that have arisen,” Lavrov said. 

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