WASHINGTON, September 9, 2016 – Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement a temporary cease-fire agreement in Syria, as the Syria civil war enters its fifth year. The cease-fire is set to begin on Sept. 12, and is hoped to last for seven days.
Secretary Kerry called the deal a possible “turning point” in the Syrian civil war, which has forced millions to flee the region and has left thousands dead. The deal was finalized in Geneva, Switzerland. Kerry believes if the deal holds, then we will see a major reduction in violence across Syria.
The agreement comes as countless groups are fighting in the civil war and getting them all on the same page will be a challenge. The cease-fire deal also seeks to increase military cooperation between the Russian and United States militaries. Both Russia and the U.S. have launched numerous airstrikes in the unstable country targeting ISIS militants.
BREAKING: FM Lavrov brings pizza to waiting press in Geneva as Sec. Kerry's team consults DC on Syria ceasefire deal.
— Dave Clark (@DaveClark_AFP) September 9, 2016
While these groups appear to be fighting back against ISIS, U.S. leaders have accused Russia of launching operations against American supported Syrian moderates. A ceasefire was previously attempted in February but collapsed after multiple violations of the terms of the cease-fire.
Kerry said he would acknowledge the groups fighting in Syria, saying if they want to be seen as legitimate, they need to separate themselves from Al-Nusra and ISIS. The agreement also calls for the sharing of information between the U.S. and Russia on Syria.
The new deal would allow for immediate deployment of humanitarian aid to the war-torn region. This deal may be the last one that President Obama can make in regards to the chaos in the Middle East, before he leaves office.
— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) September 4, 2016
Democrats applaud the deal but also question Russia’s intent and whether they will hold up their end of the deal. Democrat Rep. Adam Smith appeared on CNN praising the work Kerry has done to reach this agreement.
“I think it’s good and I applaud Secretary Kerry because I think the effort needs to be made. The only way to stop the carnage in Syria is to get some sensible transition away from Assad and the Russians are key to that,” Smith said. “I think in the meantime if we can get humanitarian aid to some of these places that are suffering, I mean that’s a win, but at the end of the day, Syria will not make a successful transition to a reasonable government until Assad agrees to leave.”
The cease-fire is critical for bringing humanitarian assistance to Syrians caught in the violence. Thousands are starving, with no food, water or health care.
However, the truce will face extreme pressure from the various groups fighting inside Syria. Some of those groups, such as al-Nusra, were not part of the discussions, making it even less likely the cease-fire will hold. If one group attacks, it is likely another will respond, and the people of Syria will again lose.