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US and Russia broker ceasefire for Syria

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
US and Russia broker ceasefire for Syria

The United States and Russia say a ceasefire will come into force in Syria this coming weekend.

Hostilities will end just after midnight on Saturday the 27th of February.

According to the statement, the truce does not include ISIL and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra front.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the impetus for the talks came from Russia.

“However,” he added, “the interest was mutual. During the course of the conversation, as co-organisers of the International Syria Support Group, we formalised the joint statements of Russia and the USA on the ceasefire in the country.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the process far from complete:

“We know there are a lot of obstacles and there are sure to be some setbacks. After all, for years we have been trying to reach a diplomatic resolution to the many problems that plague that nation, which has broken apart. But this is a moment of opportunity.”

Criticism of the truce

Some are already describing the ceasefire plan as “flawed”.

The concern is the government and its allies will continue to target rebel forces on the ground under the pretext of fighting the exempt groups.

The second ceasefire

After the collapse of peace talks in Geneva early in February world powers concerned had already agreed that a truce would come into effect within a week of the 12th of February.

However, the deadline passed with no announcement.

The human cost in numbers

  • 250,000 dead
  • 7 million displaced internally by fighting
  • 4 million have fled the country

An exact figure for the number of people killed since the conflict began in March 2011 is difficult to come by.

On Sunday 140 died in bombings in Homs and Damascus as the violence continued.

Reaction to the news

What they are saying

“I am convinced the joint actions agreed with the American side are able to radically transform the crisis situation in Syria.”Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia and the regime will target the areas of the revolutionaries on the pretext of the Nusra Front’s presence, and you know how mixed those areas are. If this happens, the truce will collapse.”Bashar al-Zoubi, head of the opposition Yarmouk Army