Monday, February 22, 2016
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement announced today by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Taskforce, on the terms of a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria scheduled to come into effect on Saturday.
Noting the “lengthy and detailed discussions” that preceded the announcement, Mr. Ban, in a statement attributable to his spokesperson said he believes the agreement, if respected, would constitute a significant step forward in the implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which gave the UN an enhanced role in shepherding the opposing sides to talks for a political transition, endorsing a timetable for a ceasefire, a new constitution and elections.
“It demonstrates the commitment of the ISSG to exert influence on the warring parties to bring about an immediate reduction in violence as a first step towards a more durable ceasefire,” Mr. Ban stressed, adding that the agreement “further contributes to creating an environment conducive for the resumption of political negotiations.”
“Above all, it is a long-awaited signal of hope to the Syrian people that after five years of conflict there may be an end to their suffering in sight,” Mr. Ban said.
Urging the parties to abide by the terms of the agreement, the Secretary-General said the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria stands ready to support implementation, both on the ground in Damascus and in Geneva. The UN will also count on the cooperation of ISSG members – the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries, including the US and Russia – as all stakeholders jointly set the implementation mechanism in motion.
“Much work now lies ahead to ensure its implementation, and the international community, the ISSG and the Syrian parties must remain steadfast in their resolve,” Mr. Ban emphasized.
Earlier, the UN chief condemned the multiple bombings yesterday in Damascus and Homs, Syria, which reportedly killed at least 155 people, mainly civilians, and injured several hundred more.
“Those responsible for these atrocious and deliberate attacks on civilians must be held accountable,” said Mr. Ban in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
The Secretary-General extended his deepest condolences to the bereaved families affected by the bombings, which were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL/Da’esh, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
Yesterday, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, strongly condemned the bombings as well.
In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, Mr. de Mistura, condemned “yet another set of car bomb and suicide explosions in Damascus and Homs cities.”
(UN Press Release; Photo of heavily damaged buildings in Homs, Syria. UNICEF/Juliette Touma)