US and Russia Announce Plan to Increase Syrian Aid and Stop Violence

PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive for a news conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich, Feb. 12, 2016.Matthias Schrader/AP Photo
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive for a news conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich, Feb. 12, 2016.

Secretary of State John Kerry has announced new steps designed to help eliminate the violence in Syria after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Munich, aiming for a "cessation of hostilities."

One of those steps is to expand humanitarian aid in Syria immediately. A new task force will meet Friday to ensure that progress is made in humanitarian aid and access in Syria.

Kerry and Lavrov agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities in one week's time, although he acknowledged that the deadline was ambitious.

Kerry said he could not guarantee the outcome of the plan and that the real test is whether all parties will implement it. The "cessation of hostilities" does not mean the U.S. or Russia will be required to end any air raids or bombings in Syria. Rather, it means that they can only bomb terrorist factions designated by the U.N., such as ISIS or Nusra.

The leaders also agreed that discussions in Geneva on the ending of violence in Syria should resume as soon as possible they were paused last week.

"The ISSG (International Syria Support Group) members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council," the U.N. said in a statement.

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