John Kerry Announces U.S.-Russian Backed Syrian Ceasefire

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Two of the most powerful countries involved in the Syrian civil war, the United States and Russia, have announced a plan to bring about a permanent ceasefire in the country, according the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The new deal, which is scheduled to come into effect at sundown on Monday, September 12, comes after several failed attempts at creating ceasefires in Syria, including one in February, and further talks in March. Thus far even temporary halts in fighting have stalled due to the complicated nature of the civil war, which has entered its sixth year.

In addition to the many separate rebel groups battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad, but many of these groups are backed by different foreign interests, such as the U.S. and Turkey. Russia on the other hand is lending air support to Assad’s pro-government forces. Further, extremist groups such as the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the Nusra Front have capitalized upon the vacuum created in the chaos.

A deal between the U.S. and Russia is considered key to helping bring about lasting peace in the war-torn country. And, according to the Syrian state-run television station, al-Ikhbariya, the Syrian government has consented to the terms.

“Today we are announcing an arrangement that we think has the capability of sticking, but it’s dependent on people’s choices,” Secretary of State Kerry said on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland. Kerry appeared alongside his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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As Kerry noted, the “bedrock” of the ceasefire is a no-fly zone over all opposition held territory for the Syrian air force, which the Secretary of State cited as the “main driver of civilian casualties.”

“That should put an end to the barrel bombs, an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods,” Kerry said.

In the seven days after the official cessation of hostilities on Monday, the focus will be on much-needed humanitarian aid, which has been continually stymied due to indiscriminate bombing. Similarly, a demilitarized zone will be setup around the besieged city of Aleppo.

The ceasefire agreement then calls for opposition forces to set themselves apart from ISIS and other extremist groups, in a step toward the U.S. and Russia fighting ISIS together. And, eventually, it will lead to the recommencing of United Nations-mediated peace talks. Previously talks had been put on hold in April after an increase in fighting.

So, while much of the chances of success depend upon Russia’s ability to get the pro-government air force to end their bombing campaigns, the deal is by far the most wide-ranging ceasefire reach so far in the long-lasting war. In addition to the European Union supporting the agreement, and looking forward to a “political transition,” Turkey, who recently sent troops into northern Syria, has welcomed the plan.

“The armed opposition in Syria now faces what is perhaps its biggest and most momentous decision since they chose to take up arms against the Assad regime in 2011,” senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, Charles Lister, said.

“If this arrangement holds,” Secretary of State Kerry said, “Then we will see a significant reduction in violence across Syria.”

 

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About the author: Gary Joshua Garrison

 

Gary Joshua Garrison is the Prose Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. His fiction has appeared in various locations around the World Wide Web, as well as in bound reams of paper. His nonfictional musing can be found at Luminary Daily and Way Too Indie. He writes, teaches, and goes to the movies in the desert of Arizona with his well-postured cat, Widget.

Website: http://garyjgarrison.com/

 

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