Sunday, January 1, 2017

Russia gets UN backing for Syria truce

A ceasefire held across most of Syria on Saturday as Russia and Turkey secured unanimous passage of a UN resolution backing their efforts to "jumpstart" talks aimed at ending the nearly six-year conflict.

The Security Council resolution aims to pave the way for talks next month in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, under the aegis of Russia and Iran, both Syrian government supporters, and of rebel backer Turkey.

Turkey and Russia say the Astana talks will supplement, not replace, UN-backed peace efforts, including talks set to resume February 8 in Geneva.

The text of the UN measure "welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jumpstart a political process" and it calls the Astana talks "an important step" ahead of the upcoming Geneva negotiations.

It also calls for the "rapid, safe and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.
Russia and Turkey brokered the current ceasefire and, while backing opposing forces in the conflict, have been working increasingly closely on Syria, including to allow evacuations from the besieged city of Aleppo.

Washington has been conspicuously absent from the new process but has called the truce "positive." Moscow has said it hoped to bring US President-elect Donald Trump's administration on board once he takes office in January. READ MORE