US, Russia make headway on brokering truce in war-torn Syria

Geneva [Switzerland], Aug. 27 : U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have made much headway and only minor details remain to be ironed out for brokering a new cessation of hostilities in war-torn Syria.

"I'm grateful that Sergey Lavrov and I were able to work together with other colleagues in the international community through the International Syria Support Group.

We were able to cobble together the concept of the cessation of hostilities," Kerry told a press conference on Friday.

He said, "Last month in Moscow, Sergey and I reached agreement after discussions with President Putin on a broad set of concrete steps that, if implemented, they would enable us to be able to achieve a meaningful, lasting ceasefire." He mentioned that at the time, both of them had announced that some significant technical details needed to be worked through, adding that the teams have spent the last few weeks working through those details in a productive manner.

Kerry said that both countries have arrived at some clarity on the path forward. " We have completed the vast majority of those technical discussions, which were primarily focused on making this cessation real and improving the level of humanitarian assistance, and thereby getting the parties to the table so we can have a serious negotiation about how to end this war.

If the remaining details can be completed, we believe we will be able to address the two primary challenges to the cessation of hostilities: one, the regime violations, including the aerial bombardment of densely populated areas; and two, the increasing influence of the al-Nusrah Front," he said.

He, however, said that a few narrow issues are yet to be resolved, and in the coming days, experts will be meeting in Geneva to conclude the remaining technical issues.

Kerry added that once all the issues are resolved, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will bring the parties back to the table to negotiate a political transition.

"That is our ultimate goal and that is the only way that this horrendous war can finally come to an end.

It is really the only viable path towards the peace and security and normalcy that the people of Syria desire and deserve," he said.

He said that Aleppo continues to be besieged and bombarded by the regime and its allies and the regime has today forced the surrender of Daraya after a brutal four years of the siege and continues to take territory in the Damascus suburbs.

Source: ANI