Russia and US to ‘redouble’ efforts for Syrian political settlement

Russia and US to ‘redouble’ efforts for Syrian political settlement

Russia and US to ‘redouble’ efforts for Syrian political settlement Russia and the United States on May 9 agreed to step up efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict and extend a truce across the whole of the country.

“The Russian Federation and United States are determined to redouble efforts to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict,” according to a joint U.S.-Russian statement published by the Russian and U.S. foreign ministries on May 9.

The two sides, co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), noted “progress” in curbing fighting, but stressed the “difficulties faced... in several areas of the country, especially in the recent period, as well as remaining problems in ensuring humanitarian access to the besieged areas.

“As a result, we have decided to reconfirm our commitment to the [cease-fire] in Syria and to intensify efforts to ensure its nationwide implementation.” 

They added: “We also intend to enhance efforts to promote humanitarian assistance to all people in need.”

To this end Russia “will work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties” to the ceasefire, it said.

Washington meanwhile said it was “committed to intensifying its support and assistance to regional allies to help them prevent the flow of fighters, weapons or financial support to terrorist organizations across their borders.”

A temporary cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and rebel groups came into force last week in Syria’s second city Aleppo, after an earlier cessation of hostilities from Feb. 27 had collapsed.

The temporary truce, initially for two days and then prolonged until May 10 at 00:01 am local time, was decided after fighting which killed nearly 300 people since April 22 in Aleppo, where some areas are held by rebels and some by government forces.

The United Nations has sought in vain for months to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, which has left over 270,000 people dead since March 2011 and forced millions to flee.  

Meanwhile, Kerry joined a meeting organized by the French Foreign Minister Marc Ayrault in Paris on May 9 on Syria where foreign ministers from Turkey, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Jordan, Italy and representatives from the EU attend.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rİghts said that Syrian rebels on May 8 fired rockets into a regime-held district of Aleppo, killing three civilians and wounding 15.

They were the first casualties since a ceasefire took hold on May 5 in the battleground northern city where regime forces control western districts and the rebels are entrenched in the east.

The Observatory said a woman and a child were among the three civilians killed when the rebels rained rockets down on several districts of western Aleppo city.