US, Russia Announce Plan for Ceasefire in Syria
It could be a 'turning point' in the five-year civil war
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2016 6:56 PM CDT
Shrink
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands after announcing plans for a ceasefire in Syria on Friday.   (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – Russia and the US announced plans for a ceasefire in the five-year Syrian civil war Friday, CNN reports. Under the agreement—which both the Syrian government and opposition groups have tentatively agreed to—calls for an end to hostilities starting at sundown on Monday. Secretary of State John Kerry says the "bedrock of the agreement" is the government's cessation of air force missions in any areas occupied by rebel groups. "That should put an end to...the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods," Kerry says. According to the AP, Kerry calls the ceasefire a possible "turning point" in the war that has killed more than 500,000 people.

The announcement came after "intensive" talks in Geneva, the BBC reports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave journalists waiting for the end of 13 hours of negotiations pizza "from the US delegation" and vodka "from the Russian delegation." The ceasefire will allow the UN to deliver humanitarian aid to hard-hit areas, including Aleppo, where nearly 700 civilians—160 of them children—have been killed in the past 40 days. If the ceasefire lasts a week, the US and Russia will start planning joint military operations against al Qaeda and ISIS fighters in Syria. But such ceasefire agreements have failed in the past. "We think [the arrangement] has the capability of sticking, but it's dependent on people's choices," Kerry says. "It is an opportunity and not more than that."