As reported in the news, the US and Russia have agree to enforce new Syria ceasefire. A new deal between the US and Russia to enforce a ceasefire in Syria has been reached, with the cessation of hostilities set to come into force on 27 February. A report by Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor of the Guardian is extracted below: The ceasefire, subject to the agreement between the warring parties, would exclude Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other groups deemed to be terrorist organisations. Scepticism about whether it can be enforced will be widespread after a previous planned ceasefire failed to take place. Instead, Russia continued its bombing campaign, sieges of starving towns were never lifted and other confidence-building measures ignored.
But the joint statement by Russia and America will not have been issued on Monday – following extensive talks – unless the two countries had relatively clear indications that its terms will be accepted by the key plays including the Syrian government, the opposition forces sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and by Syrian Kurds.
In a change to the previous aborted ceasefire, Russia and America have agreed to act as direct guarantors and monitors of the cessation of hostilities.
In a joint statement Russia and America said the cessation of hostilities would begin at midnight on Friday 27 February Damascus time, requiring parties to the agreement to indicate acceptance by noon the day before.
Key to the agreement issued on Monday will be co-ordination between Washington and Moscow to set out territories that are subject to the ceasefire, and therefore must not be subject to aerial bombing by Russia, attacks by the Syrian army or the American backed opposition. In view of the intricate interweaving of the various factions, the shifting alliances and complexity of the front lines in Syria, communication between Russia and the US on the precise territory subject to a ceasefire will have to be tightly co-ordinated. The likelihood that either artillery fire or aerial bombardment will deliberately or inadvertently land in territory party to the ceasefire is high.
The agreement states violations of the ceasefire will be reported on a hotline to a special task force co-chaired by America and Russia which will have power to determine a group can no longer be deemed party to the agreement, and so once again open to military attack.
All opposition groups signing up to the ceasefire will not only cease to use weapons or to gain territory, but also allow “rapid safe and unhindered” access to humanitarian convoys in areas under their control.
The joint statement also states “All parties further commit to work for the early release of detainees, particularly women and children”.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state said “this is a moment of promise,” adding “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. If implemented and adhered to, 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”.
Following a phone call with the Russian president, Barack Obama said he welcomed the agreement between the US, Russia and the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) on the ceasefire’s terms, but stressed that “the priority was now to ensure positive responses by the Syrian regime and armed opposition as well as faithful implementation by all parties”.
The previous ceasefire agreed by the ISSG at the Munich security conference was due to have to come into force last Friday, but the United Nations had to abandon the plan. In the interim, the Russian-backed Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad has made territorial gains nearly encircling Aleppo. The Russian calculation may be that Assad has so strengthened his military hand with the help of the Russian air force that he is now in a sufficiently strong military position from which to conduct negotiations about the composition of Syria’s future government, including his own personal role and future elections.
The US continues to insist that Assad stands down at the end of the process, but Iran and Russia have spoken instead of decentralisation, and Assad being left with a more titular role.
Syrian opposition coordinator Riad Hijab said there was a provisional agreement on a temporary truce in Syria, the pro-opposition Orient TV reported on Monday.
Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister who chairs the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee, said the agreement would be “according to international guarantees”.
The agreement brokered between the two superpowers has been given an added urgency by destructive bombings in Homs and Damascus that killed more than 150 people and wounded more than 200.
It is thought Isis, which claimed to have carried out the attacks, intervened decisively in a bid to disrupt peace talks knowing that if the non-extremist Syrian opposition and the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, do achieve a stable ceasefire then the pressure on Isis in its stronghold of Raqqa will increase.
Some Syrian opposition forces said the exclusion from the agreement of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front was problematic because it could be used as a pretext for attacks on rebel groups and civilians in opposition-held areas.
It was pointed out that al-Nusra is not only present in Idlib, but also in Aleppo, in Damascus and in the south.
A ceasefire would also reduce some of the pressure on the Turkish border as refugees flee Aleppo and seek sanctuary.
US-led airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – interactive
A UN committee of inquiry reported on Monday that there have been systematic human rights crimes in Syria, adding that they should be referred to the international criminal court or an ad hoc war crimes tribunal. It called on the Syrian government to end disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks.
A spokesman for the US-led anti-Isis coalition, US army Col Steve Warren, said US intelligence estimates of the number of Isis fighters, which for the first 17 months of coalition operations ranged from 19,000 to 31,000, had been revised to between 20,000 and 25,000 – a level he said the group would struggle to maintain.
“They have been able to replenish their forces at roughly the same rate as we’ve been able to kill their forces. That’s hard to sustain,” he said.
Warren said that until recently the average local Isis fighter was paid about $400 (£280) a month, while foreign fighters, who tended to be “better” because they were more committed and fanatical, were on $600 to $800 a month.
Separately, Assad called a parliamentary election for 13 April. Elections are held every four years in Syria with the last one held in 2012.