Key points of the US-Russia agreement on Syria
GENEVA - A look at the key points in an arrangement announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov aimed at halting fighting in Syria and moving towards a political transition after five-and–a-half years of combat between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and opposition rebels:
What the arrangement says
A nationwide ceasefire by Assad’s forces and the US-backed opposition is to begin across Syria at sundown September 12th. That sets off a seven-day period that will allow for humanitarian aid and civilian traffic into Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial capital, which has faced a recent onslaught.
Fighting forces are to also pull back from the Castello Road, a key thoroughfare and access route into Aleppo and create a demilitarised zone around it.
Also on September 12th, the United States and Russia would begin preparations for the creation of a Joint Implementation Centre that will involve information-sharing needed to define areas controlled by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was linked to al-Qaeda.
The centre is expected to be established a week later and is to launch a broader effort towards delineating other territories in control of various groups.
As part of the arrangement, Russia is expected to keep the Syrian Air Force from bombing areas controlled by the opposition. The United States has committed to help weaken Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the extremist group that has intermingled with the US-backed opposition in places.
A resumption of political dialogue between the government and opposition under UN mediation, which was halted amid an upsurge in fighting in April, will be sought over the longer term.
Syria’s civil war has killed as many as 400,000 people and sent millions fleeing their homes within Syria and into exile.
Kerry said this “new equation” offers an opportunity to find a peaceful solution and reverse the current trend of “creating more terrorists” and more destruction.
Who’s on board
Kerry said the US-supported opposition and other fighters will be called upon to set themselves apart from the Islamic State (ISIS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
Lavrov said through a translator: “The Syrian government has been informed of these arrangements and is ready to fulfil them.”
The United States and Russia, ultimately, are to find themselves fighting together against ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and embarking on unprecedented information-sharing aimed at dispelling longstanding mistrust between the two powers over the Syria conflict.
How the arrangement came together.
The Geneva negotiating session lasted more than 13 hours and capped a flurry of meetings between the two diplomats in recent days. Kerry and Lavrov met four times since a meeting in Geneva on August 26th. US President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin discussed the matter at a summit in China.
(The Associated Press)