UN adopts resolution supporting Syria ceasefire

Security Council passes resolution supporting truce and planned peace talks despite signs of shakiness on the ground.

    The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed a ceasefire currently in effect in Syria, as well as plans for peace talks to be held in the Kazakh capital next month.

    The resolution, approved late on Saturday, called for the "rapid, safe and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country.

    Russia, which supports Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, brokered the ceasefire with Turkey earlier this week in the hope of paving the way for peace talks in Kazakhstan in the new year.

    The truce calls for negotiations over a political solution to end the conflict that has killed more than 400,000 people and forced millions to flee.

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    Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, praised efforts to end the year with an international agreement for Syria and thanked Turkey for its "substantive contribution".

    "It is very important that the Security Council backed these efforts by Russia and Turkey," he said.

    Endorsing the resolution "means that if all of us look together to certain objectives rather than to attempt to gain benefit, then we are able to make important decisions".

    However, in remarks after the vote, several delegates voiced their concern, saying the agreement contained grey areas and that its implementation was fragile.

    Amendments accepted

    Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York City, said Russia was forced to accept a number of amendments to see the resolution pass.

    "Key among them was that the Russia-Turkey brokered ceasefire was part of a wider UN initiative aimed at restoring political dialogue," he said.

    "Russia has made it clear that this resolution is in no way meant to supplant a UN push to start talks in Geneva."

    Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, has said he intends to bring together representatives of the rival parties for talks in Geneva after February 8.

    The truce remained largely intact on Saturday, despite opposition forces accusing Assad loyalists of attacking 33 locations.

    Rebel groups threatened to abandon the ceasefire if the government continued its assault on areas under their control.

    Rebel leaders told Al Jazeera that Assad's government were trying to take advantage of the situation to further expand its territory.

    At least 10 air strikes hit rebel-held villages and towns in the strategically important Wadi Barada valley near Damascus, activists said.

    Delicate moment for truce

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Turkey's Gaziantep near the Syria border, said it was a delicate moment for the ceasefire.

    "They [Syrian rebel groups] have sent an urgent appeal to the UN and to Turkey, which is the key player in the ceasefire, to negotiate with the Russians and try to stop the Syria government, warning that if this continues, there will be no option but to resume the fighting," he said.

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    "The terms of the ceasefire insist that the moment it comes into effect, there should be no military operation, no party should take advantage of it. But the Syrian opposition would need that guarantee, that the guns must fall silent across Syria."

    The Syrian civil war started as a largely unarmed uprising against Assad in March 2011, but quickly developed into a full-on armed conflict.

    Calculating a precise death toll is difficult, partially owing to the forced disappearances of tens of thousands of Syrians whose fates remain unknown.

    Almost 11 million Syrians - half the country's prewar population - have been displaced from their homes.

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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