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UN deputy chief: Russia-US agreement on Syria to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery

February 24, 2016, 11:18 UTC+3

Stephen O'Brien also positively assessed Russia’s actions for the organization of the first humanitarian air corridors to the blocked Syrian city

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© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry's Press Office/TASS

MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. The Russian-US agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria with the observance of the ceasefire regime by all the conflict sides will ensure, among other things, the delivery of humanitarian aid to the needy, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said after a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

"O'Brien said that Russia plays an important role in ensuring humanitarian access to the blocked settlements. He also positively assessed Russia’s actions for the organization of the first humanitarian air corridors to the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor that is blocked by militants of the Islamic State terrorist organization," the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Wednesday.

On Monday evening, Russia and the United States issued a joint statement saying that the ceasefire regime in Syria would take effect on February 27 at 00:00, Damascus time (01:00, Moscow time). The statement says that the cessation of hostilities is to be applied to all parties to the Syrian conflict but for Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State) and Jabhat an-Nusra (both are banned in Russia) "or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council."

Gatilov and O’Brien also discussed the preparation for the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23-24 this year.

"The sides expressed the general common view that it is important to improve the efficiency of the UN system’s humanitarian response activity, its adaptation to new challenges and increasing needs. As for the forthcoming WHS, Gatilov said it is necessary to ensure the maximally open intergovernmental preparation process in line with the adopted corresponding UN General Assembly resolutions," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

According to the UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed over 220,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011. Gangs of militants making part of various armed formations, the most active of them being the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, fight government troops.

"The agreement has been reached that fighting will end in Syria at midnight Damascus time on February 27, 2016, under the conditions constituting an integral part of the joint statement of Russia and the US," Russian President Vladimir Putin said. In particular, he said "by noon February 26, all the warring sides in Syria need to confirm to us or to our American partners their adherence to the ceasefire."

The second round of the inter-Syrian negotiations was due in Geneva under the UN auspices on February 25, but several says earlier, the UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura confirmed the timing was not realistic.


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