A halt to ongoing hostilities in Syria is scheduled to go into effect Saturday, the U.S. and Russia announced Monday.
Daesh and al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, the Nusra Front, are excluded from the cease-fire as well as other unspecified UN Security Council-designated terrorist organizations.
“I am gratified to see the final arrangements concluded today for a cessation of hostilities in Syria and call on all parties to accept and fully comply with its terms,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement released shortly after the formal announcement.
“If implemented and adhered to, this cessation will not only lead to a decline in violence, but also continue to expand the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to besieged areas and support a political transition to a government that is responsive to the desires of the Syrian people,” the top diplomat added.
The announcement is the latest in a series of diplomatic efforts meant to end Syria’s five-year-old civil war.
A deadline for a previous cease-fire came and went last Friday without a halt in hostilities. Kerry was engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity over the weekend in order to broker the deal.
He held three phone conversations with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, regarding the parameters for the cease-fire, according to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Those details were shared with President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ministry said in its statement.
The presidents spoke by phone Monday at the Kremlin’s request, the White House said. While welcoming the agreement, Obama “emphasized that the priority now was to ensure positive responses by the Syrian regime and armed opposition.”
Moscow intervened in the Syrian conflict last September on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supplying him with much-needed air support, which has paved the way for a Syrian government advance in the country.
It now falls to Syria’s interested parties to agree to the cease-fire by 10.00 GMT Friday.
The truce would then go into effect at midnight that day, according to a joint Russia-U.S. statement released by the State Department.
“Military actions, including airstrikes, of the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Armed Forces, and the U.S.-led Counter ISIL Coalition will continue against ISIL, ‘Jabhat al-Nusra,’ and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council,” the statement said.
It’s unclear if the deal will meet greater success than previous efforts.
The Syrian government has continued its offensive in northern Syria and around Aleppo as it seeks to cut rebel supply routes to Syria’s second city.
And a deadly set of suicide attacks Sunday in a Damascus suburb and Homs that claimed at least 120 lives has reinforced concerns that Daesh can carry out attacks throughout the country even as the U.S. and Russia continue aerial sorties against the extremist group.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Syrian government-controlled cities.
In a sign of intensified diplomatic activity
, Putin on Monday spoke with the amir of Qatar, one of the principal backers of Syria’s rebels, regarding the Syrian crisis, the Kremlin said.
The two agreed to increase bilateral contacts “to facilitate a solution to the crisis,” the Kremlin statement said.