Russia and US reach an agreement on Syria

A seven-day pause in fighting will allow aid to flow – if Assad’s forces agree to relax their stranglehold on besieged areas such as Aleppo. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A seven-day pause in fighting will allow aid to flow – if Assad’s forces agree to relax their stranglehold on besieged areas such as Aleppo. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russia and the US have announced an agreement on Syria starting with a “cessation of hostilities” from sunset on Monday.
Under the plan, the Syrian government will end combat missions in specified areas held by the opposition.

Russia and the US will establish a joint centre to combat jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS).

The announcement follows talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

The plan would need both the regime and opposition “to meet their obligations”, Mr Kerry said in Geneva.

The opposition had indicated it was prepared to comply with the plan, he said, provided the Syrian government “shows it is serious”.

Mr Lavrov said Russia had informed the Syrian government about the arrangements and the Syrian government was “ready to fulfil them”. The accord also provides for humanitarian access.

“The cessation of hostilities requires access to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, including Aleppo,” Mr Kerry said.

Seven days after the start of the cessation of hostilities, Russia and the US will establish a “joint implementation centre” to fight IS and another main group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Mr Lavrov said the joint implementation centre would allow Russian and US forces to “separate the terrorists from the moderate opposition”.

He said the Russian and US air forces would carry out co-ordinated strikes strikes against the two groups, and that in some areas, that excluded action by the Syrian air force.

“We have agreed on the areas where such co-ordinated strikes would be taking place, and in those areas, on neutral agreement shared by the Syrian government as well, only the Russian and US air force will be functional,” he said.

But Mr Lavrov added that “the Syrian air force will be functional in other areas, outside those that we have singled out for Russian-American military co-operation”.

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