Security Council unanimously endorses Syria ceasefire, fresh UN talks

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Samantha Power. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

A unanimous resolution backing the provisions of a nationwide cessation of violence across Syria, just hours before it was due to come into force, has been adopted by the UN Security Council.

The resolution sponsored by the United States and Russia endorses the hoped-for ceasefire by all warring parties in Syria, although UN-designated terrorist groups ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front are not included.

Matthew Wells reports.

The ceasefire deal, first brokered by the US and Russia as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group Ceasefire Taskforce, was described by US Ambassador Samantha Power as the "best chance" to halt the violence.

She told the Security Council that there was understandable scepticism that the ceasefire would in fact hold, given the uptick in bombing and loss of civilian life since the cessation was announced on Monday.

She added that after trying and failing to halt the Syrian conflict for so many years, the Security Council had a duty to seize the opportunity presented by a durable ceasefire.

"Arguably no crisis has done more to threaten international peace and security or has inflicted as much human suffering as the conflict in Syria. We are all now broken records, here in this council, about the fact that this crisis cannot be resolved through force alone, that it will require a political solution. We have heard it, we've said it. But today, we have an opportunity. If we can make this cessation of hostilities hold, which is a very big if, we will have taken a genuine step towards that solution we have been talking about for so long."

Earlier, UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the Council via video from Geneva, and said that if the peace held and access for humanitarian aid continued, then intra-Syrian peace talks could resume.

He said the same government and opposition groups which gathered in Switzerland earlier in the month for talks that stalled, would be invited. The agenda would be the same, and talks could get going on March 7.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'26"

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