Diplomatic breakthrough for peace will be tested on 19 February
DIPLOMATS seeking a compromise to end the bloody Syrian civil war have announced a plan to begin a “nationwide cessation of hostilities” between the Assad government and rebel forces.
The agreement, announced by US, Russian and United Nations authorities, represents a symbolic breakthrough following five years of bloodshed have left hundreds of thousands of people dead and up to 19 million people displaced as refugees.
The war has left major cities in ruin, large swathes of the country ungovernable due to hundreds of armed groups, and created one of the largest refugee crisis in human history.
“The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.” Diplomatic statement
The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of nations – including the US, Russia, Ian, Saudi Arabia, and Western nations – agreed a statement to de-escalate the violence : “The ISSG members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh [Islamic State], Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organisations by the United Nations security council.
“The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.”
Two major challenges – out of many – for the deal include doubts over whether the agreement will be followed by ground forces, and the continued war with Daesh (Islamic State) in the east of Syria.
New figures from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research estimate that 400,000 people have died as a result of violence in Syria.
Western governments, including the US and UK, planned to overthrow the Assad regime. Russia and Iran, key allies of the government, intervened to oppose the rebel groups.
Peace campaigners have long called for influential nations to prioritise peace talks and diplomacy over further bombings and military intervention, as the only long-term solution to deepening the conflict.
The “cessation” is planned to begin from 19 February.
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Picture courtesy of Freedom House