Armenia Welcomes Russia-US Agreement on Syria Ceasefire

Syrian volunteers take part in paramilitary training conducted by the Syrian army on Feb. 22, 2016, in al-Qtaifeh. (Source: Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)
Syrian volunteers take part in paramilitary training conducted by the Syrian army on Feb. 22, 2016, in al-Qtaifeh. (Source: Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

Syrian volunteers take part in paramilitary training conducted by the Syrian army on Feb. 22, 2016, in al-Qtaifeh. (Source: Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

DAMASCUS (The Associated Press) — According to a statement by the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Armenia has welcomed the Russia-US agreement on Syria ceasefire.

The United States and Russia have agreed on a new cease-fire for Syria that will take effect Saturday, even as major questions over enforcing and responding to violations of the truce were left unresolved. Syria’s warring government and rebels still need to accept the deal, the Associated Press reported.

The timeline for a hoped-for breakthrough comes after the former the two countries, backing opposing sides in the conflict, said they finalized the details of a “cessation of hostilities” between President Bashar Assad’s government and armed opposition.

The truce will not cover the ISIS group, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and any other militias designated as terrorist organizations by the U.N. Security Council. But where in Syria the fighting must stop and where counterterrorism operations can continue must still be addressed. And the five-page plan released by the U.S. State Department leaves open how breaches of the cease-fire will be identified or punished.

The announcement came after Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone Monday, capping weeks of intense diplomacy to stem the violence so that Assad’s government and “moderate” rebel forces might return to peace talks in Geneva. A first round of indirect discussions collapsed almost immediately this month amid a massive government offensive backed by Russian airstrikes in the northern Syria.

Obama welcomed the agreement in the call with Putin that the White House said was arranged at the Russian’s request. The White House said Obama emphasized the key is to ensure that Syria’s government and opposition groups faithfully implement the deal.

“This is going to be difficult to implement,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “We know there are a lot of obstacles, and there are sure to be some setbacks.”

Putin called the agreement a “last real chance to put an end to the many years of bloodshed and violence.” Speaking on Russian television, he said Moscow would work with the Syrian government, and expects Washington to do the same with the opposition groups that it supports.

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