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Russia, US demand from Damascus, opposition to cease attacks on civilians

May 09, 2016, 19:56 UTC+3

"The Russian Federation will work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians," a joint statement of Russia and the U.S. says

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© Valery Sharifulin / TASS

MOSCOW, May 9. /TASS/. Russia and the United States demand from Damascus and the opposition to cease attacks on the civilian population, a joint statement of Russia and the United States says.

"The co-chairs re-affirm our commitment to the nationwide CoH that went into effect on February 27 across Syria, and have decided to pursue the … measures to reinvigorate it," the statement says.

"Recognizing challenges related to the CoH in certain areas the co-chairs have re-emphasized the terms of the COH with field commanders on all sides, especially in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, and Latakia, where we are determined to improve and sustain the CoH. We are using our influence with the CoH parties on the ground to press them to abide by the COH, refrain from disproportionate responses to provocations and demonstrate restraint," it reads.

"We demand that parties cease any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including civilian infrastructure and medical facilities," the statement says. "Where attacks leading to significant civilian casualties are reported to have occurred, the co-chairs are committed to undertaking, within existing channels of interaction in Geneva, the region, and capitals, a joint assessment and to sharing the results with the members of the ISSG Ceasefire Task Force and, through the UN Special Envoy for Syria, to the UN Security Council."

"The Russian Federation will work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties to the cessation," it said.

The ceasefire has been effective in Syria since February 27, 2016. It does not apply to the groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia), and also to other groups declared as terrorist by the UN Security Council. Russia’s aviation grouping has been delivering air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria since September 30, 2015 at the request of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.

Resume the intra-Syrian talks

MOSCOW, May 9. /TASS/. Russia and the United States call to resume the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on the basis of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s proposal suggested on April 27, the statement says.

"The Russian Federation and United States are determined to redouble efforts to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict consistent with UNSCR 2254 through the intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva under UN auspices. We concur that these talks should be resumed on the basis of the Special Envoy’s mediator’s summary of April 27, in particular the annex addressing the fundamental issues for a viable transition, and the section on the commonalities on the political transition," the statement says.

Along with this, the sides urged members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and other members of the international community "to promote and support a political settlement in Syria through the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2254 and 2268, the 2016 Munich and 2015 Vienna Statements of the ISSG, and the 2012 Geneva Communique."

"In this regard, the co-chairs strongly support efforts to end violence and bloodshed, counter the threat of terrorism, and ensure the implementation of international humanitarian law," the joint statement reads.

Prevent the support of terrorism

Russia and the United States urge all the nations to prevent any support to terrorists in Syria, the statement says.

"The co-chairs are urging all states to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2253 (December 17, 2015) by preventing any material or financial support to ISIL, the al Nusra Front, as well as any other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council, and to prevent attempts by such groups to cross the Syrian border," the statement reads.

"To that end, the United States is committed to intensifying its support and assistance to regional allies to help them prevent the flow of fighters, weapons, or financial support to terrorist organizations across their borders," it says.

"In order to maintain the effectiveness of the CoH, the co-chairs are committed to undertaking efforts to develop a shared understanding of the threat posed, and territory controlled, by ISIL and the Nusra Front, and to consider ways to deal decisively against the threat posed by ISIL and the Nusra Front to Syria and international security," the statement says.

Humanitarian aid

Moscow and Washington have urged the United Nations to expand the area in need in Syria and deliver humanitarian aid to the cities of Nubul, Zahra and Hasakeh.

Also, Darayya has been listed as one of Syria's cities where Russia and the United States are committed to deliver humanitarian aid to, says a joint statement of Russia and the U.S.

"In order to urgently deliver humanitarian aid, the Russian Federation and the United States of America are committed to pressing the parties to ensure continuous delivery of assistance to Douma, East Harasta, Arbeen, Zamalka, Darayya, Zabadin, Fouah, Kafrayah, Madaya, Zabadani, Mouadhimiyeh, Yarmouk, Ein Terma, Hammura, Jisrein, Saqba, and Kafr Batna by land, and that it continues as long as humanitarian needs persist," the statement said.

"We also recommend that the UN consider other locations that may meet the criteria for priority designations, including Nubul, Zahra, and Hasakeh," it reads. "Humanitarian access, including by medical personnel, to these most urgent areas must be a first step toward full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country. As called for in UNSCR 2258, border crossings that are necessary for humanitarian relief should remain open."

Earlier, putting forward their conditions for the return to talks in Geneva, representatives of the High Negotiations Committee (a Saudi-backed Syrian opposition force) paid special attention to deliveries of humanitarian aid to Darayya. The city is controlled by terrorists fighting against the Syrian governmental army. According to the UN information, civilians in need of humanitarian aid still reside there.

Also, Russia and the U.S. reaffirmed the need for sustained deliveries to locations considered by the UN as hard-to-be-reach, such as al Waer, Talbisseh, al Rastan, and Afrin.

Humanitarian aid to the Syrians will include a full package of medical and other items and food, says a joint statement.

"Humanitarian aid will be delivered based on need, with the full package of food, medical, and non-food items as decided by the UN authorized for delivery by all sides. The provision of mobile health services and evacuation of urgent medical cases should be facilitated by all sides," the statement says. "The co-chairs reaffirm that all parties must allow immediate and sustained humanitarian access to reach all people in need, throughout Syria, particularly in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, in accordance with UNSCR 2254."

The parties to the conflict in Syria have repeatedly accused each other that surgical equipment and medicines had been removed from humanitarian convoys. However, they could have been used for treating participants of armed clashes. Also, dual-use items, for instance detergents, were also taken out from the humanitarian convoys. Thus, the High Negotiations Committee, an opposition force formed in Riyadh, referred to these facts justifying its decision to suspend the talks in Geneva.

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