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Russia Moves Quickly To Begin Implementation of the Truce Agreement

Feb. 25, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russia is moving quickly to implement the cessation of hostilities provided for in the joint statement issued by the U.S. and Russian governments on Feb. 22. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov announced yesterday that a coordination center is already up and running at the Russian air base in Latakia. It is already staffed with some 50 people with experience in peacekeeping operations, and they‚Äôre already taking phone calls. The staff is organized into five groups: an analysis and planning group; a negotiation group; a group for agreements and cooperation with foreign organizations; an information support group; and a group for humanitarian support of the Syrian population.

"As soon as the contact information was brought to the Syrian population, the active work of the Center started," Konashenkov said. Konashenkov further reported that there is already work on the ground to implement the truce, including in Homs and Latakia provinces, where peace documents have already been signed.

"[In] the regions and settlements of Syria, where the peace documents have been signed, the local population will receive humanitarian cargoes, living essentials and medical support from personnel of the Coordination center,"

he said.

As for U.S. military participation in this process, Konashenkov reported that the relevant contact information for the coordination center was passed to the U.S. military attaché in Moscow, but no response has yet been received from the Pentagon.

The joint statement provides that the U.S. and Russia, as the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group and the Ceasefire Task Force,

"are prepared to work together to ensure effective communications and develop procedures necessary for preventing parties participating in the cessation of hostilities from being attacked by Russian Armed Forces, the U.S.-led Counter ISIL Coalition, the Armed Forces of the Syrian government and other forces supporting them, and other parties to the cessation of hostilities."

In addressing the potential for violations,

"every effort should be made to promote communications among all parties to restore compliance and rapidly de-escalate tensions, and non-forcible means should be exhausted whenever possible before resorting to use of force," the document says. "Any party can bring a violation or potential violation of the cessation of hostilities to the attention of the Task Force, either through the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Syria (OSE) or the co-chairs. The OSE and Co-Chairs will establish liaison arrangements with each other and the parties, and inform the public generally about how any party may bring a violation to the attention of the Task Force."

This is the work that the Russians have now already begun, even before the cessation goes into effect on Feb. 27.

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