US and Russian officials are reporting that an agreement was reached today in Munich on an “ambitious” ceasefire plan for the Syrian Civil War, with a goal of ending all armed hostilities in the country within a week, excluding ISIS and Nusra Front territory.
The plan came in the wake of failed UN peace talks, which saw the rebels demanding an immediate end to all attacks against them, then showing up, then insisting they weren’t there for the peace talks, then after the UN declared a “pause” arguing the talks never really began in the first place.
That, and gains by the Syrian military in Aleppo, added to the push among Western nations to save the rebels by stopping the fighting. Ironically they’d long resisted pushes to end the fighting when they thought the rebels were winning.
Though everyone seemed to assume Russia and the Syrian government would do the same thing, they appear to have gotten on board with the ceasefire pretty quickly, though all the details of how it will be implemented aren’t clear, including plans to end all sieges against towns by all factions involved.
Still, this puts the civil war in ceasefire, at least in about 40% of Syria, and should allow everyone to shift focus to fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, with a goal of getting the peace talks going on some sort of unity government.
The exclusion of Nusra territory from the deal is likely to make for some future disputes, as Russian airstrikes against Nusra’s coalition have repeatedly been presented by the US as targeting proper rebels, and Idlib Province, where materially all of Nusra’s territory is, remains a key focus of the Syrian offensives.