UN Security Council Approves Syrian Peace Plan

The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a resolution ending the Syrian conflict, following a week of intense diplomatic talks between Russia and the United States.

The resolution backs a cease-fire between the Assad government and opposition forces looking to overthrow him, and calls on the two sides to begin a Syrian-led political transition process starting early January. Open elections are to be held within 18 months of the start of the transition, with an end goal of establishing “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” for the country.

The United Nations will help facilitate both the transition and open elections.

The resolution also encourages the Russians and American coalition forces, who have been separately bombing Isis targets in the region, to start working together on their continuing attacks on the Islamic terror group.

As previously reported, talks leading to Friday’s U.N. resolution were almost derailed by Russia, who balked at a diplomatic unification of the different forces battling Assad. Some of the factions included in new group were deemed to be “terrorist” by Russia, which also noted that not the rebels were included.

Syrian president Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, attending church services on Friday.

Syrian president Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, attending church services in Damascus on Friday.

The talks went back on after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took the week to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Kerry left the meetings reversing hard-fast points of the American position; the U.S. no longer sought ‘regime change’ in Syria, and would allow Iran, a key Russian ally, to take part in the talks.

The resolution does not touch on the issue of Assad himself. The Assad government has submitted a list of more than three dozen representatives if approves to participate in transition talks.

At a press conference after resolution signing, Kerry took an optimistic tone, saying that “now that we have a U.N. resolution […] and a process moving, the door is much more open [….] for us to consider greater ways of cooperation.”

Sitting at Kerry’s side during the conference, his Russian counterpart Lavrov said he was “not too optimistic about what has been achieved today,” adding, “the progress has not been as dramatic as we would like it to be [….] But it is complicated.”

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