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"All parties must end attacks" in Syria: Obama

Saturday, February 27, 2016 - 02:00

During his weekly address, U.S. President Barack Obama says ''the world is watching'' the cessation of hostilities in Syria and that ''much will depend on whether the Syrian regime, Russia and their allies live up to their commitments.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday (February 27) that "everyone knows what needs to happen" to make a ceasefire in Syria succeed despite significant question marks over whether the agreement will hold. The United States, Russia and other parties have agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria that was set to begin Saturday (February 27) from midnight (2200 GMT Friday Feb. 26). "A cessation of hostilities in the civil war is scheduled to take effect this weekend. We're not under any illusions. There are plenty of reasons for skepticism. Even under the best of circumstances, the violence will not end right away. But everyone knows what needs to happen. All parties must end attacks, including aerial bombardment. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach areas under siege. Much will depend on whether the Syrian regime, Russia and their allies live up to their commitments. The coming hours and days will be critical, and the world is watching," Obama said Obama stressed the agreement to halt fighting did not apply to the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State. He said the United States and its partners would continue to be "relentless" in their offensive against the militants. Obama also noted that at home the authorities remain vigilant and will keep working to "build partnerships of trust and respect with communities to help them stay strong and resilient." "We'll continue to draw on all elements of our national power, including the strength of our communities and our values as Americans. And I'm confident that we will prevail," Obama said in his weekly address. Fighting appeared largely to stop across most areas of western and northern Syria on Saturday after a cessation of hostilities came into effect, which the United Nations called the best hope for peace since the civil war began five years ago. Under the U.S.-Russian accord accepted by President Bashar al-Assad's government and many of his enemies, fighting should cease so aid can reach civilians and talks can open to end a war that has killed more than 250,000 people and made 11 million homeless. The truce is the culmination of new diplomatic efforts that reflect a battlefield dramatically changed since Russia joined the war in September with air strikes to prop up Assad. Moscow's intervention effectively destroyed the hope his enemies have maintained for five years -- encouraged by Arab and Western states -- to topple him by force. The fragile agreement is the first of its kind to be attempted in four years and, if it holds, would be the most successful truce of the war so far. But there are many weak spots in the agreement, which has not been directly signed by the Syrian warring parties and is less binding than a formal ceasefire. Importantly, it does not cover powerful jihadist groups such as Islamic State and the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's branch in Syria.

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"All parties must end attacks" in Syria: Obama

Saturday, February 27, 2016 - 02:00