News / Middle East

    Diplomats Push for Syria Cease-fire as Deadline Approaches

    Children play near damaged buildings in the rebel-held southern town of Bosra al-Sham, Deraa, Syria, Feb. 23, 2016. Negotiations continue on a proposed cease-fire.
    Children play near damaged buildings in the rebel-held southern town of Bosra al-Sham, Deraa, Syria, Feb. 23, 2016. Negotiations continue on a proposed cease-fire.
    VOA News

    U.N. diplomats are considering a Security Council resolution endorsing a U.S.- and Russian-backed cease-fire in Syria, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says is "the one way that we can end this war."

    Syria's warring parties have until midday Friday to say if they are participating in the cessation of hostilities that is due to begin 12 hours later.

    "The alternative is that the war gets worse, that Syria might be totally destroyed, not able to be put back together," Kerry said Wednesday. 

    U.S. and Russian officials are holding further discussions Thursday on implementing the cease-fire, and Russia's deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, reiterated that his country is not discussing any alternatives to the plan.

    The Syrian government has said it will take part and also will continue attacking Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked terrorists, which are excluded from the cease-fire. The truce would halt five years of fighting that has left 470,000 people dead.

    FILE - Islamic State fighters sit on a pickup truck while being held as prisoners by fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near Ash Shaddadi, Hasakah province, Syria, Feb. 18, 2016.
    FILE - Islamic State fighters sit on a pickup truck while being held as prisoners by fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near Ash Shaddadi, Hasakah province, Syria, Feb. 18, 2016.

    The main opposition High Committee for Negotiations (HNC) gave a reserved endorsement for the cease-fire on Wednesday, saying it will participate for two weeks to determine the other side's commitment. 

    The HNC has also said its participation is contingent on the delivery of humanitarian aid and the end of sieges and airstrikes against civilians.

    The U.S. envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said in a statement that the HNC's recommendations are being carefully considered. He also expressed hope that the maximum number of armed factions will sign on to the cease-fire.

    Turkey issues warning

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned Thursday that his country will not be bound by the truce if it is threatened by Syrian Kurdish fighters or the Islamic State group.

    Turkey has carried out cross-border shelling into northern Syria targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says should not be part of the cease-fire deal. 

    Turkey considers the YPG to be terrorists based on their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a three-decade insurgency in the country’s southeast. The PKK is recognized as a terror group by the United States and the European Union.

    Obama cautious

    President Barack Obama struck a cautious tone after meeting Wednesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

    "We are very cautious about raising expectations on this; the situation on the ground is difficult," the president said.

    But the American leader added, "If over the next several weeks we can see some lessening of the violence that’s been wracking that country, then that provides us a basis to build a longer term cease-fire." He said the warring parties fighting for control of Syria might eventually be able to "move forward on the political transition that ultimately is going to be necessary to bring an end to the civil war in Syria.”

    In Moscow, the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Saudi Arabia's King Salman about the impending truce. Its statement said Putin and Rouhani, who both support the Assad regime in Damascus, "stressed the importance of a further cooperation" between the two countries in fighting terrorist groups in Syria.

    Russia said that Salman, who is supporting rebel groups fighting Assad, "welcomed" the truce and voiced a "willingness to work with Russia" to implement it.

    FILE - In this Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo, a Russian Su-25 ground attack jet is parked at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, with Su-24 bombers seen in the background, Dec. 18, 2015.
    FILE - In this Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo, a Russian Su-25 ground attack jet is parked at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, with Su-24 bombers seen in the background, Dec. 18, 2015.

     

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora