World and regional powers agree to turn Syria truce into ceasefire

Vienna, May 17 (IANS) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday asserted there was significant progress in Syria peace talks after a meeting here in this Swiss city and said all the stakeholders agreed to turn the Syria truce into a real ceasefire.

“I see the confirmation of the entire basis that our work is based on as the main result of today’s International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting. That is the joint statement of the ISSG and the resolutions of the UN Security Council numbers 2218, 2254 and 2268,” Lavrov said.

“I’d like to stress that we’ve made progress in all directions of our work, namely the cessation of hostilities, the expansion of the humanitarian assistance and the political process,” he added.

John Kerry also announced that the ISSG sees progress in the situation, stating, however, that specific actions should be taken to make real changes.

“We moved the ball forward. [But] to make all of this more than words on a page, some determined actions will have to be taken to make it happen. No one can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria,” Kerry said.

Lavrov said the level of violence on the ground in Syria has gone down significantly, while humanitarian access has improved in many parts of the country.

As for the political process, Lavrov noted that there had been another round of talks concerning the political transition, giving the grounds for another meeting.

The powers in Vienna, however, failed to agree on a new date for peace talks between the warring sides in Syria, said Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to the country, in a joint press conference with Kerry and Lavrov.

“Intra-Syria talks are still in progress,” De Mistura said. “The issue is still waiting for some type of concrete outcome of this meeting, but we cannot wait too long, we want to keep the momentum.” He added that peace talks “will become credible when there is credible cessation of hostilities and credible humanitarian aid” delivery.

Tuesday’s talks authorised air drops to improve the humanitarian situation and outlined the locations where aid deliveries are to be made.

The truce brokered earlier this month by Russia and the US brought a measure of relief to the battered Syrian city of Aleppo earlier but Bashar-Al-Assad said he still sought a total, crushing victory over opposition forces.

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war.

Over 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other — as well as militants from Islamic State.



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