Britain says Syria deal will only work if Russia stops bombing

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a joint news conference with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the Foreign Ministry in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

MUNICH (Reuters) - A cessation of hostilities in Syria can only succeed if Russia stops air strikes supporting Syrian government forces’ advance against the opposition, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday.

“If implemented fully and properly ... , this (deal) will be an important step toward relieving the killing and suffering in Syria,” Hammond said in a statement.

“But it will only succeed if there is a major change of behavior by the Syrian regime and its supporters.

“Russia, in particular, claims to be attacking terrorist groups and yet consistently bombs non-extremist groups including civilians. If this agreement is to work, this bombing will have to stop: no cessation of hostilities will last if moderate opposition groups continue to be targeted.”

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sandra Maler