The U.S. and Russia agreed on Friday to establish a cease-fire in southern Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The cease-fire, which begins Sunday at noon local time, marks the nations’ first joint effort under the Trump administration to curb the violence in Syria’s ongoing, six-year civil war. Tillerson said President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached the “defined agreement” during a lengthy two-hour conversation for which both he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were present.
On Friday, Lavrov confirmed that Jordan is party to the deal as well. The Associated Press has since reported that Israel is also involved, citing information from a U.S. official. Both Jordan and Israel share a border with southern Syria, giving them a vested interest in mitigating the conflict, as well as strategic access to the region. While many details of the new agreement, including its end date, have yet to be decided, Lavrov said the Russian military would be initially responsible for securing the Daraa, Quneitra, and Suwayda regions in southern Syria. Each nation was also expected to provide humanitarian aid.
While the agreement is a major step forward for U.S.-Russian diplomacy, previous cease-fires have done little to mitigate the violence in Syria. Since 2011, the nation has been embroiled in a massive civil war between the Syrian army, led by President Bashar al-Assad, and various rebel groups who oppose the Assad regime. The conflict has ultimately led to a global refugee crisis and the deaths of around half a million civilians. Since the start of the civil war, both sides have repeatedly violated cease-fire arrangements—sometimes within hours of the deals taking effect.