UN agrees on road map for Syria

  • 19/12/2015
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York (Reuters)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York (Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council members have unanimously approved a resolution on Friday (local time) for a peace plan for Syria.

The plan includes a ceasefire and talks between the government in Damascus and the opposition. But the draft makes no mention of what will happen to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The endorsement is a symbolic, yet dramatic breakthrough on Syria. For five years as the country was torn apart by a brutal conflict, and millions of Syrians fled, the UN was unable to agree on anything to stem the bloodshed.

The UN has made it clear the resolution will not end the war, noting that "terrorist groups" such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked al-Nursa front are not included in the ceasefire.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement an "unprecedented degree of unity" in the Security Council.

"We're under no illusions about the obstacles that exist … especially about the future of President Assad," says Mr Kerry.

He says Mr Assad is a barrier to peace in the region, and "has lost the ability … to unite the country".

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Syria is "in ruins".

"This marks a very important step on which we must build," says Mr Ban.

Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja'afari, criticised talk about replacing Mr Assad as interference in Syria's sovereignty.

The Assad government and the opposition have been urged to halt the use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons against civilians. The UN also urged the Syrian government to lift restrictions on medical aid.

Ministers will meet next month, with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura tasked with pulling together a final negotiating team for the Syrian opposition.

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