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Next Few Weeks in Syria “Critical”
International

Next Few Weeks in Syria “Critical”

President Barack Obama has said the coming weeks will be “critical” for Syria’s future, ahead of a two-week truce due to start on Friday. If successful, he said, the truce could be a first step towards ending the chaos and violence in Syria.
And he vowed to defeat the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, which he said was “not a caliphate but a crime ring”.
Obama said the success of the cessation of hostilities would depend on whether parties, including the Syrian government, Russia and their allies lived up to their commitments, BBC reported.
“Attacks needed to end and humanitarian aid had to be allowed through to desperate civilians,” he said.
“The coming days will be critical and the world will be watching.”
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he hoped the US would respect the truce.
Obama said that factional rivalry among the rebels, as well as the campaign against IS, meant there would be no immediate end to violence.

  “Crime Ring”
Obama also said progress was being made in the fight against IS, but added that the only way to inflict a lasting defeat on the group was to bring an end to the Syrian conflict.
He said IS had not had a single successful offensive operation in Syria or Iraq since last summer and that the group has lost 40% of its territory.
“More people are realizing that IS is not a caliphate; it’s a crime ring. They are not winning over hearts and minds; they are under pressure,” he said.
“In the end, the brutality of IS is no match for the yearning of millions who want to live in safety and dignity.”

  Syrian Opposition
Syria’s main opposition umbrella group said that it was ready for a two-week truce to test the government’s commitment to the plan.
But the High Negotiations Committee expressed concern that Moscow and Damascus would continue targeting rebels allied to the al-Nusra Front, a militant group that, along with IS, will be excluded from the cessation of hostilities.
The Kurdish Popular Protection Units, a militia that controls territory in northern Syria near the Turkish border, said on Thursday it would respect the truce, but reserve the right to retaliate if attacked.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria, said he would be announcing the date for the next round of peace talks in Geneva on Friday.

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