Russia And US Agree New Ceasefire For Syria


Russia and the US have announced new plans for a ceasefire in Syria, days after a previous truce failed to take hold.

The countries said the ceasefire, which does not include Islamic State or al Nusra Front, would begin on Saturday 27 February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has spoken to his US counterpart Barack Obama by phone, said it is a real chance to end the bloodshed.

Speaking on television, he also said it would prove an example to the world in the fight against “the danger of terrorism”.

The White House insisted the cessation could help speed up talks on political change in Syria.

The new truce is subject to agreement from all the other warring parties, who will be required to sign up to it by midday on Friday.

The joint statement said: “The United States of America and the Russian Federation, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG)… are fully determined to provide their strongest support to end the Syrian conflict and establish conditions for a successful Syrian-led political transition process.

“In this regard… the United States and Russia announce the adoption… of the Terms for a Cessation of Hostilities in Syria.”

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone afterwards before hailing the agreement.

A previous agreement to cease hostilities had been due to take effect last Friday, but appeared not to have been observed by some fighting groups and, on Sunday, 140 people were said to have been killed in car bombings.

Sky”s Middle East Correspondent Alex Rossi reported on Friday that Turkey fired shells over its border into Syria to prevent the Syrian Kurds (The YPG) from advancing further west.

As Russia and the US made their announcement, Syrian officials said the government was ready to take part in a truce as long as it was not used by militants to strengthen their positions.

Syrian opposition member Khaled Khoja told TV station Al Arabiya he understood the ceasefire would be for an initial two weeks, with the possibility to extend it.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond welcomed the announcement, but said that it will only succeed if Russia changes its behaviour.

Turkey also welcomed it and also called on Russia to stop bombing civilians.

In the meantime, Syria”s President Bashar al Assad has called parliamentary elections for April 13, according to the country”s state news agency.