UN backs Syria ceasefire brokered by Russia, Turkey
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday supporting efforts by Russia and Turkey to end the nearly six-year conflict in Syria and jumpstart peace negotiations, as a fragile countrywide ceasefire wavered.
The resolution also calls for the "rapid, safe and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria. And it anticipates a meeting of the Syrian government and opposition representative in Kazakhstan's capital Astana in late January.
reached Thursday, simply taking note of it but welcoming and supporting Russian-Turkish efforts to end the violence.
Western members of the council sought the last-minute changes to the draft resolution to clarify the UN's role and the meaning of the agreement brokered by Moscow and Ankara.
US deputy ambassador Michele Sison said the Obama administration strongly supports a ceasefire and "unfettered humanitarian access," but she expressed regret that additional documentation to the agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey with details about its implementation have not yet been made public.
Meanwhile on the ground in Syria, rebels warned on Saturday that ceasefire violations by pro-government forces threatened to undermine the two-day-old agreement intended to pave the way for talks between the government and the opposition in the new year.
Airstrikes pounded opposition-held villages and towns in the strategically-important Barada Valley outside Damascus, activists said, prompting rebels to threaten to withdraw their compliance with a nationwide truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last week.
Rebels also accused the government of signing a different version of the agreement to the one they signed in Ankara, further complicating the latest diplomatic efforts to bring an end to six years of war.
Nearly 50,000 people died in the conflict in 2016, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which maintains networks of contacts on all sides of the war. More than 13,000 of them were civilians, according to the Observatory.
Various estimates have put the war's overall toll at around 400,000 dead.
Agencies contributed to this report.