Updated on February 12 at 12:48 p.m. ET
The UN hopes to start delivering aid to Syria’s beleaguered population as soon as Saturday, a spokesman said Friday after U.S. and Russian officials announced a “cessation of hostilities” among the various factions—excluding ISIS and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front—involved in the nearly five-year-long civil war.
“The UN system has been geared to deliver this aid all along, especially to besieged areas, and that’s precisely what’s going to be discussed today: how to start, and when to start,” Ahmad Fawzi, a UN spokesman, said in Geneva. “We hope to start as early as tomorrow, immediately after the meeting, decisions will be taken to roll the aid in, especially to besieged areas that need it.”
Early Friday, John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, announced in Munich that they had agreed upon the delivery of aid to besieged Syrian cities, followed by a “cessation of hostilities” starting next week. The term is more temporary than a cease-fire, Kerry said, and would constitute “a pause” in the fighting.
The date agreed to in Munich is a compromise between the two powers who are on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war: The U.S., which is calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, had wanted an immediate cease-fire; Russia, which is backing Assad through military means, had offered a March 1 date.