US, Russia reaffirm commitment to ceasefire, relief aid in Syria

WASHINGTON, May 9 (KUNA) — The US and Russia, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), reaffirmed their commitment Monday to what has been a repeatedly violated Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement in Syria, and said Moscow will work with the Assad regime to “minimize” civilian casualties.
In a joint statement, the two nations emphasized they will use their “influence with the CoH parties on the ground to press them to abide by the COH, refrain from disproportionate responses to provocations and demonstrate restraint,” and they have also reminded “field commanders on all sides, especially in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, and Latakia” of the CoH terms.
The statement further called on all parties to “cease any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including civilian infrastructure and medical facilities,” and said reports of civilian casualties will be assessed and reported to the ISSG Task Force as well as the UN Security Council.
For its part, Russia stated it “will work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties to the cessation,” the statement showed.
On dealing with the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, which is not a party to the CoH and is still under bombardment from primarily US forces, the two nations urged all states to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2253 to prevent “any material or financial support” to the group, as well as to the Al-Nusra Front, “and to prevent attempts by such groups to cross the Syrian border,” the statement said.
“The co-chairs are committed to undertaking efforts to develop a shared understanding of the threat posed, and territory controlled” by terrorist groups, it added.
On humanitarian access, the US and Russia identified the towns of Douma, East Harasta, Arbeen, Zamalka, Darayya, Zabadin, Fouah, Kafrayah, Madaya, Zabadani, Mouadhimiyeh, Yarmouk, Ein Terma, Hammura, Jisrein, Saqba, and Kafr Batna as areas that require “continuous delivery of assistance by land,” while “deliveries by air will be continued to Deir ez Zor for approximately 110,000 people in need,” according to the joint statement.
Continuous aid access was also urged for “hard-to-reach” areas identified as Al-Waer, Talbisseh, Al-Rastan, and Afrin, as well as “other locations that may meet the criteria for priority designations, including Nubul, Zahra, and Hasakeh,” the statement noted. “The co-chairs commit to immediately work together with the Syrian parties to ensure no delay in the granting of approval and completion of all pending UN requests for access in accordance with the UN’s monthly plans,” it added.
The US and Russia again stressed the need for a political transition and diplomatic solution in Syria, and said they “strongly support efforts to end violence and bloodshed, counter the threat of terrorism, and ensure the implementation of international humanitarian law.” (end) ys.gta

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