Officials announced Monday the U.S. and Russia have come to an agreement to cease hostilities in Syria to begin Saturday.
The “cessation of hostilities,” as it is being called, will not include strikes against Islamic State and Nusra Front, making any suspected terrorists fair game for continued strikes. The plan comes just hours after Secretary of State Kerry announced a “provisional agreement” Sunday night around the same time ISIS engaged in a bombing campaign that killed around 130 civilians.
Russia, the U.S. and the other various states with an interest in Syria had initially planned to have a ceasefire within a week from Feb. 11, however, that deadline passed. U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said to reporters during a briefing Feb. 17 that “[Russian] bombing continued at pace” during the week that the ceasefire was supposed to have occurred.
Syrian opposition leaders from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) expressed disillusionment over the original calls for ceasefire. “You ask me if I accept a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities. I ask you: why is the onus on the opposition and whether it has preconditions for negotiations?” said Farid Hijab, an HNC official, to The Associated Press.
According to an official speaking to Reuters, the Saturday ceasefire not only calls on the major powers to cease hostilities, but also President Bashar Assad’s forces and the Syrian opposition.
In a report also released Monday, U.N. investigators claimed war crimes in Syria have been “rampant.” They described the conflict as “a multisided proxy war steered from abroad by an intricate network of alliances.” The investigators believe the major powers involved in the conflict “continue to feed the military escalation.”
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