France urges Syria ceasefire be promptly respected
French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday the Syrian ceasefire must be fully and promptly implemented, after discussing it with the leaders of Britain, Germany and the United States.
“A ceasefire has been announced. It must be fully respected and the sooner, the better,” Hollande told reporters during a visit to Peru.
He said the four Western powers would join forces to push for “discussions on a real political transition” in Syria.
All four countries called for an end to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and urged the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate in the aid effort for those affected.
“Pressure must be exerted on the Syrian regime and its supporters, in this case Russia, so that the bombings cease and so humanitarian aid can be transported” to hard-hit spots such as Aleppo, he said.
“It is high time for this, otherwise refugees will continue to come and there will be an unbearable humanitarian situation in Turkey,” one of Syria’s neighbors where countless refugees have fled.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing fighting in Syria have risked their lives trying to reach Europe.
Syria’s regime agreed Tuesday to the ceasefire deal announced a day earlier by the United States and Russia, aimed at halting its nearly five-year civil war.
Hollande’s office said in a separate statement that the four countries would closely monitor implementation of the truce, “particularly the halting of strikes by Russia and the Syrian regime on moderate opposition groups and the civilian population.”
There were widespread doubts about whether the truce could take effect by the weekend as hoped.
The agreement does not apply to militants such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, putting up major hurdles to how it can be implemented on Syria’s complex battlefield.
The deal calls for a “cessation of hostilities” between forces loyal to Assad and opposition groups that would take effect at 2000 GMT Friday.
In a new toll released Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that 271,138 people — including nearly 80,000 civilians — had lost their lives in the war.