The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a ceasefire in the nearly six-year Syrian civil war, the details of which were organized by the governments of Russia and Turkey, France 24 reported.
According to Reuters, this ceasefire is the third such in 2016. The vote also supported plans for Syrian government officials and opposition representatives to meet in Kazakhstan "ahead of the resumption of U.N.-brokered talks in Geneva in February." It makes aid access conditional on "all protagonists downing weapons," the Guardian reported, though it does not apply in stretches of the country controlled by the Islamic State terrorist group.
However, rebels released a co-signed statement indicating they would defy the ceasefire agreement if, as in the past, Syrian government forces and their allies, including Russia, continued to violate ceasefires with artillery and airstrikes.
The deal — brokered by Russia and Turkey without the assistance of the U.S. and backed by Iran — is yet another sign that the balance of power in the region is tipping away from the U.S. and its NATO allies in Europe. In recent weeks, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic government have retaken the city of Aleppo, formerly Syria's most populous city.
While Assad seems to be on an inevitable trajectory to victory, simply retaking territory from the numerous rebel groups that still control much of Syria will not end the violence. Whether or not the ceasefire itself will hold, or lead to productive political talks between the various rebel factions and the government, is still very much a matter of dispute.
Forces on both sides of the Syrian civil war issue have been the target of accusations of war crimes and violations of human rights, although Human Rights Watch and other independent observers have accused the Russia-Syria coalition of some of the gravest such crimes in recent months.