17 May 2016 – Warning of a return to a full-scale war in Syria, an international group of diplomats reaffirmed its determination to bolster a fragile ceasefire, ensure aid reach those in need, and make progress toward a peaceful political transition, the United Nations said today.
Meeting in Vienna, the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which comprises the United States, the Russian Federation, the UN, the Arab League, the European Union along with 16 countries, issued a statement, stressing the need to solidify the cessation of hostilities in the face of serious threats, particularly during the past several weeks.
The ISSG called on all parties to the truce to refrain from disproportionate responses to provocations and to demonstrate restraint. If the ceasefire is not implemented in good faith, “the consequences could include the return of full-scale war, which all the Members of the ISSG agreed would be in no one’s interest,” the statement said.
The ISSG also welcomed the joint statement of 9 May by Ceasefire Task Force Co-Chairs, Russia and US, in which they agreed to intensify efforts to ensure the cessation’s nationwide implementation.
The ISSG reaffirmed that sieges of civilian populations in Syria are a violation of international humanitarian law and called for the immediate lifting of all sieges, insisting on concrete steps to enable the delivery of urgent aid to the following locations: Arbeen, Darraya, Douma, East Harasta, Mouadhimiyeh, Zabadin and Zamalka.
The ISSG called on the World Food Program (WFP) to carry out a programme for air bridges and air drops for all areas in need, starting 1 June, if the UN is denied humanitarian access to any of the designated besieged areas.
The ISSG reiterated the objective of meeting the target date of August 1, set out by Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), for the parties to reach agreement on a framework for a genuine political transition, which would include a broad, inclusive, non-sectarian transitional governing body with full executive powers.