March 1st, 2016 09:35 EST
Ash Carter: Cease-Fire in Syria Could Be 'First Step' in Ending Civil War
The cessation of hostilities in Syria could be a "first step" in ending Syria`s civil war, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today during a Pentagon news conference.
The agreement, which went into effect over the weekend, could also be a move toward helping the Syrian people, Carter said.
Brokered by the U.S. and Russia, the cessation of hostilities includes the Syrian government, Russia and several rebel factions.
"If properly implemented and adhered to, we believe this cessation can lead to an overall decline in violence and hasten the delivery of humanitarian aid," Carter said. "It could be a first step towards an end of the civil war and the suffering of the Syrian people."
Other Issues Require Resolution
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was with Carter at the news conference and said other issues will have to be resolved for the violence to permanently end.
"A lasting peace in Syria is going to require addressing the grievances associated with the civil war and a political process that leads to transition," Dunford said.
Officials are constantly monitoring the situation on the ground, the defense secretary said. "We will see in coming days if all parties back commitments they have made in words with their actions," he added.
Carter made it clear the developments would not impact coalition efforts to accelerate the operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Syrian civil war was one of the causes that led to the creation of ISIL in the first place, he said.
"There is no cessation of hostilities in the counter-ISIL campaign," Carter said. (Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)
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