FILE - Free Syrian Army fighter fires a shell towards Islamic State fighters in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria.
FILE - Free Syrian Army fighter fires a shell towards Islamic State fighters in the northern Aleppo countryside, Syria.

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) has decided that humanitarian access to Syria will commence this week to besieged areas and an ISSG task force will within one week elaborate modalities for a nationwide cessation of hostilities.

Below are key points of the group's joint communiqué statement:

*Sustained delivery of assistance shall begin this week by air to Deir Ez Zour and simultaneously to Fouah, Kafrayah, the besieged areas of rural Damascus, Madaya, Mouadhimiyeh, and Kafr Batna by land, and continue as long a humanitarian needs persist.

*The members of the ISSG will use their influence with all parties on the ground to work together, in coordination with the United Nations, to ensure that all parties allow immediate and sustained humanitarian access to reach all people in need, throughout Syria, particularly in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

*The ISSG reaffirmed that humanitarian access should not benefit any particular group over any other, but shall be granted by all sides to all people in need.

*The ISSG asks the U.N. to give weekly progress reports, so that in any cases where access lags or approvals are lacking, relevant ISSG members will use their influence to press the requested party/parties to provide that approval. 

*The ISSG says there will be a process for resolving any problems so that relief can flow expeditiously.

*All ISSG members commit to immediately work together with the Syrian parties to ensure no delay in the granting of approval and completion of all pending U.N. request for access.

*ISSG co-chairs and members will ensure that aid convoys are used solely for humanitarian purposes.

*The cessation of hostilities will commence in one week, after confirmation by the Syrian government and opposition, following appropriate consultations in Syria.

*Although a cessation of hostilities can facilitate humanitarian access, it cannot be a precondition for such access anywhere in Syria.

*The ISSG expressed concern for the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons and the imperative of building conditions for their safe return in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law and taking into account the interests of host countries.

*The member of the ISSG reaffirmed that it is for the Syrian people to decide the future of Syria.

*The members of the ISSG pledged to do all they can to facilitate rapid progress in these negotiations, including the reaching of agreement within six months on a political transition plan that establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance.  The negotiations also include the setting of a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the U.N.

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