- World powers on Friday agreed an ambitious plan to cease hostilities in war-racked Syria within a week and dramatically ramp up humanitarian access at talks in Munich aimed at ending the five-year war.
- US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Munich that Syrian peace negotiations should resume in Geneva as soon as possible.
After numerous back and forth negotiations, world powers have finally agreed to seek a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria within a week, thereby bringing back the much-needed glimmer of hope for war-ravaged Syrians.
US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Munich that Syrian peace negotiations should resume in Geneva as soon as possible.
He said, "The cessation in hostilities will not include Western operations against Islamic State and other militant groups fighting in Syria. The ceasefire plan is ambitious and the real test is whether the parties (involved) will honour the commitments."
The 17 countries agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin in a target of one week's time, said Kerry after extended talks co-hosted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The International Syria Support Group also agreed to accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid beginning immediately.
"Sustained delivery will begin this week, first to the areas where it is most urgently needed... and then to all the people in need throughout the country, particularly in the besieged and hard to reach areas," said Kerry.
An onslaught on the key rebel stronghold of Aleppo by Syrian government troops, backed by Russian bombers and Iranian fighters, derailed peace talks this month and forced 50,000 people to flee.
The bombardments have left the opposition virtually encircled and observers say 500 people have died since they began on 1 February -- the latest hellish twist in a war that has claimed more than 2,60,000 lives.
Negotiation between rebels and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:
Kerry said talks between rebels and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime would resume as soon as possible, but warned that "what we have here are words on paper".
"What we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground," he said.
Host German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier agreed, adding that "whether this really is a breakthrough we will see in the next few days".
"When the whole world sees whether today's agreements are kept and implemented -- by the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, by Hezbollah and opposition militias, and also by Russia," Steinmeier said.
With agency inputs