US, Russia announce truce deal on Syria
The U.S. and Russia have agreed to take steps to reduce violence in war-torn Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on early Saturday.

In a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, Kerry said a truce would commence with the start of the Muslim holiday celebration of Eid al-Adha that begins Monday.

Kerry dubbed the deal a "turning point,” according to media reports, and he said that along with Russia, he hopes it "will reduce violence, ease suffering and resume movement towards a negotiated peace and a political transition in Syria”.

He also called on Syrians to support the deal that aims to "bring this catastrophic conflict to the quickest possible end through a political process”.

All attacks and airstrikes would be stopped and unobstructed access would be allowed to besieged areas, including Aleppo, Kerry said, adding that both sides agreed to pull back from Castello Road in Aleppo to create a demilitarized zone that would allow access to the city.

Daesh and al-Nusra are not included in the deal as both are listed as terror groups by the UN Security Council.

Lavrov said that the two countries agreed on five documents related to fighting terrorism and a truce in Syria.

The United Nations issued a statement shortly after the deal was announced, saying it "welcomes the understanding" on the cessation of hostilities.

"The United Nations hopes that the political will that led to this understanding is sustained," the statement said. "It creates a real window of opportunity which all relevant actors in the region and beyond should seize to put the crisis in Syria on a different path and ease the violence and suffering being endured by the Syrian people," it added.

Syria has suffered unspeakable losses over the last five years since Bashar al-Assad's government violently suppressed a peaceful protest against his rule, unleashing a downward spiral of violence that killed hundreds of thousands of victims and displaced millions.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook issued a statement on the deal commending it as an arrangement that "could achieve a sustained cessation of hostilities.”

"This preliminary understanding now requires the Russians and the regime to carry out a number of very specific steps, including, importantly, a sustained cessation of hostilities for at least seven days,” Cook said.

The spokesman added that if Moscow fails to keep the commitments under Friday’s deal, a potential military cooperation between the U.S. and Russia would not occur.

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Last Modified: 2016-09-10 08:00:29
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