Diplomats aim for temporary Syria truce in a week

Refugee and Migrant Crisis

Displaced Syrians walk past tents at the Bab al-Salama camp, set up outside the Syrian city of Azaz on Syria’s northern border with Turkey on February 12, 2016. ( AFP / MUJAHED ABUL JOUD )

A diplomatic push for a temporary pause in Syria’s civil war and the delivery of humanitarian aid faced huge hurdles Friday, with Russia saying it would continue its airstrikes and government planes dropping leaflets urging rebels to surrender because “the belt is narrowing around you.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says a long-term cease fire in Syria depends on all parties to its civil war engaging in “genuine negotiation.”

Meeting in Munich, diplomats from the U.S., Russia, and other powers with interests in Syria’s war agreed early Friday to try to secure a “cessation of hostilities” in a week’s time.

Mercy Corps Christine Nyirjesy Bragal on humanitarian aid of Syria

CCTV’s Mike Walter spoke to Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, the director of Media Relations of the Mercy Corps.

Kerry said that “the objective is to achieve a durable long-term cease-fire at some point in time” but that depends on future negotiations. Kerry acknowledged that differences remain over the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad but said “you have to be at the table to deal with that.”

Germany’s foreign minister said diplomatic efforts to tame Syria’s civil war were at a crossroads and talks needed to produce some kind of breakthrough.

“If we don’t succeed in breaking the spiral of violence and counter-violence now, this terrible civil war will drag on even longer,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, adding that “everyone who is needed” was at a meeting in Munich of major powers with an interest in the conflict.

The U.N. human rights chief described the worsening situation around Aleppo as “grotesque,” and warned that up to 300,000 people are at risk of being besieged.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement Thursday that about 51,000 civilians have been displaced since the Syrian government’s latest offensive on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, began last week.

Zeid also points out reports of “numerous airstrikes by Russian and Syrian aircraft” there.

He adds that “the warring parties in Syria are constantly sinking to new depths, without apparently caring in the slightest about the death and destruction they are wreaking across the country.”

Zeid says peace talks must resume as early as possible.

Story by the Associated Press