Office of the Spokesperson
May 9, 2016
The Russian Federation and the United States of America, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), recognize the progress that has been made with respect to the cessation of hostilities (CoH) in Syria, in accordance with our Joint Statement of February 22, 2016, and in improving humanitarian access. We believe our joint efforts have brought about a significant decrease in violence in the areas of North Latakia and East Ghouta. However, we also recognize the difficulties faced by the CoH in several areas of the country, especially in the recent period, as well as remaining problems in ensuring humanitarian access to the besieged areas. As a result, we have decided to reconfirm our commitment to the CoH in Syria and to intensify efforts to ensure its nation-wide implementation. We also intend to enhance efforts to promote humanitarian assistance to all people in need in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.
Cessation of Hostilities
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 following measures to reinvigorate it:
- 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.
- We demand that parties cease any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including civilian infrastructure and medical facilities. 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
Ensuring Humanitarian Access
Since January 2016 the UN, in coordination with the ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent, have taken significant steps to deliver assistance to 255,250 people in besieged areas and 472,975 people in hard-to-reach areas. However, many Syrians with urgent needs have yet to be reached, especially in besieged communities. Life-saving assistance, including certain medical supplies and personnel to ensure their proper use, have been denied to populations in need. UN assessment teams and humanitarian personnel have been barred from accessing certain besieged areas.
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. Deliveries by air will be continued to Deir ez Zor for approximately 110,000 people in need. In addition, we reaffirm the need for continuous deliveries to all locations considered by the UN to be hard-to-reach, such as al Waer, Talbisseh, al Rastan, and Afrin. We also recommend that the UN consider other locations that may meet the criteria for priority designations, including Nubul, Zahra, and Hasakeh. 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.
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 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 co-chairs commit to immediately work together with the Syrian parties to ensure no delay in the granting of approval and completion of all pending UN requests for access in accordance with the UN’s monthly plans. The co-chairs urge all parties to effectively address the issue of detainees and hostages in accordance with UNSCR 2254, 2258, and other relevant resolutions. We also support the UN’s appeals for continued funding of the Syria Response Plan, and encourage the international community and UN to intensify efforts to meet the needs of internally displaced persons across Syria.
Supporting a Political Settlement in Syria
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. We urge all parties to the conflict, fellow ISSG members, 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.