US, Russia agree to Syrian ceasefire

Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) The US and Russia announced on Monday the plan for a cessation of hostilities in Syria that will begin on February 27, the US State Department said.

In a joint statement, the two countries said the ceasefire agreement will not apply to “Daesh”, also known as the Islamic State (IS), “Jabhat al-Nusra”, or other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council.

Any party engaged in conflicts in Syria will indicate to Russia or the US their commitment to and acceptance of the terms for the cessation of hostilities by no later than 12.00 (Damascus time) on February 27, said the joint statement issued by the State Department.

“I am gratified to see the final arrangements concluded today for a cessation of hostilities in Syria and call on all parties to accept and fully comply with its terms,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

If implemented and adhered to, Kerry said, this cessation will not only lead to a decline in violence, but also continue to expand the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to besieged areas and support a political transition to a government that is responsive to the desires of the Syrian people, Xinhua news agency reported.

Russia and the US are prepared to work together to exchange information and develop procedures necessary for preventing parties participating in the ceasefire from being attacked by Russia, the US-led anti-IS coalition, and the Syrian government, said the joint statement.

Russian and the US military actions, including airstrikes, will continue against IS, “Jabhat al-Nusra,” and other terrorist organisations.

Moscow and Washington will also establish a communication hotline and, if necessary and appropriate, a working group to exchange relevant information after the cessation of hostilities has gone into effect.

“This is a moment of promise, but the fulfilment of that promise depends on actions,” Kerry said. “We are all aware of the significant challenges ahead.”

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