NATO Secretary General hopes Syria's ceasefire extended beyond two weeks

¬†KUWAIT, March 1 (KUNA) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hoped cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria would be extended beyond its two-week period, while urging all parties in the Syrian conflict to fully respect the ceasefire.
“There is an initial agreement on two weeks (cessation), and we would like to see it developed into something much longer,” Stoltenberg said.
An extended cessation of hostilities will form a “sustainable, lasting, negotiated political and peaceful solution for Syria,” he said.
He urged all parties – the Syrian government and opposition – to fully respect and implement the agreement, which he hoped would last further.
“Our main focus is the importance of respecting the agreement on cessation of hostilities, and largely it is respected,” said Stoltenberg in an interview with KUNA.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yesterday said the ceasefire in Syria was holding “by and large,” and hoped the truce would be extended beyond the two-week period.
UN Security Council (UNSC) last Friday adopted unanimously resolution 2268 endorsing a US-Russian statement on cessation of hostilities in Syria, which would pave way for delivery of humanitarian supplies for those in need.
The conflict in Syria, which broke out in March 2011, killed more than 250,000 people and forced more than 12 million people to leave their homes to safer havens, either within their country or in neighboring nations.
The conflict became more complicated with the Russians launching airstrikes against what they said were terrorist groups including so-called Islamic State (IS).
“We are concerned about the significant increase of Russian military presence in Syria,” said Stoltenberg.
“We have seen substantial air forces, ground forces and naval forces in eastern Mediterranean. Most of the airstrikes conducted by Russian planes are not directed against (IS) ISIL (but) against other opposition groups, and thereby the main aim has been to support (President Bashar) Assad” not to fight IS, he said. He pointed out that most of IS victims were Muslims.
The Russian military operation caused an increase in the number of people forced to leave their homes, he said, with “more people becoming refugees because of the Russian bombardment of Aleppo and its surrounding,” in addition to creating a dangerous situation close to borders with NATO-member Turkey including airspace violence of Turkish and NATO airspace. (end) bs