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UN Security Council Adopts Syria Resolution Backing Russian-Turkish Peace Plan


Damaged buildings in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, on December 30.
Damaged buildings in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, on December 30.

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution welcoming a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey and a bid to kick-start peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.

The resolution was endorsed unanimously by the 15 members of the council following closed-door discussions on December 31.

The final text dropped a formal endorsement of the ongoing cease-fire announced by Russia and Turkey earlier this week that was seen as largely holding on the ground in Syria despite sporadic fighting.

But it says that the Security Council "welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jump-start a political process."

The adopted resolution also welcomes a plan to hold peace talks next month between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Those talks would be held with the backing of Russia and Iran, who support Assad in the conflict, and of Turkey, which is supporting rebel groups. They would be held ahead of peace negotiations brokered by the UN that are set to be held in Geneva in February.

Following the vote, several delegates on the Security Council said they welcomed the truce but said that maintaining it could be difficult, Reuters reported.

The resolution also calls for "rapid, safe, and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian assistance in Syria.

The Kremlin said earlier in the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rohani spoke by telephone and agreed to coordinate closely on bringing an end to the war in Syria.

The two leaders stressed the importance of the current cease-fire and the planned Astana talks, the Kremlin said.

The latest cease-fire is the third so far this year aimed at bringing an end to the nearly six-year-old war.

There were reports that sporadic fighting continued in parts of Syria on December 31 despite the cease-fire, as rebel groups accused government forces of "continued violations" and warned that the truce could be voided.

Prior to the adoption of the Security Council resolution, activists and monitors said Assad's forces were pushing forward on a number of fronts despite the truce.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the cease-fire remained largely intact.

But several rebel groups said in a statement that "continued violations" by Assad's forces and attacks on "areas under the control of the revolutionary factions will make the agreement null and void."

The government and the opposition have blamed one another for cease-fire violations. Russia accused the rebels on December 30 of violating the truce a dozen times in a 24-hour span.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, TASS, and Reuters
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