The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting efforts by Russia and Turkey to end the nearly six-year conflict in Syria and jump-start peace negotiations, the AP reports. The resolution approved Saturday afternoon also calls for the "rapid, safe, and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria. And it anticipates a meeting of the Syrian government and opposition representative in Kazakhstan's capital Astana in late January. The resolution's final text dropped an endorsement of the Syria cease-fire agreement reached Thursday, as Western members of the council sought changes to the circulated draft resolution to clarify the UN's role and the meaning of the agreement brokered by Moscow and Ankara.
Meanwhile on the ground in Syria, rebels warned on Saturday that cease-fire violations by pro-government forces threatened to undermine a two-day-old agreement intended to pave the way for talks between the government and the opposition in the new year. Airstrikes pounded opposition-held villages and towns in the strategically-important Barada Valley outside Damascus, activists said, prompting rebels to threaten to withdraw their compliance with a nationwide truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last week. If the truce holds, the government and the opposition will be expected to meet for talks for the first time in nearly a year in the Kazakh capital of Astana in the second half of January. Those talks will be mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.