US, Russia seal Syria cease-fire, new military partnership

From The Associated Press:

GENEVA (AP) — The United States and Russia early Saturday announced a breakthrough agreement on Syria that foresees a nationwide cease-fire starting on Monday, followed a week later by an unlikely new military partnership targeting the Islamic State and al-Qaida as well as new limits on President Bashar Assad’s forces.

After a daylong final negotiating session in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said shortly after midnight Saturday that the plan could reduce violence in Syria and lead to a long-sought political transition, ending more than five years of bloodshed. He called the deal a potential “turning point” in a conflict that has killed as many as 500,000 people, if complied with by Syria’s Russian-backed government and U.S.-supported rebel groups.

The cease-fire begins at sundown Sept. 12, Kerry said, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

“Today the United States and Russia are announcing a plan which we hope will reduce violence, ease suffering and resume movement toward a negotiated peace and a political transition in Syria,” Kerry said. “We are announcing an arrangement that we think has the capability of sticking, but it is dependent on people’s choices.”

“It has the ability to stick, provided the regime and the opposition both meet their obligations, which we – and we expect other supporting countries – will strongly encourage them to do,” he added.

Kerry’s negotiating partner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, confirmed the agreement and said it could help expand the counterterrorism fight and aid deliveries to Syrian civilians under U.N. auspices that have been stalled for weeks. He said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was informed of the accord, and prepared to comply.

“The United States is going the extra mile …

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