Reducing Violence, Restoring Access and Establishing the JIC
The Russian Federation and the United States (hereafter - "the Sides") intend to undertake joint efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria, with special measures for the Aleppo region. Delineation of territories controlled by ISIL, "Jabhat Al-Nusra," and moderate armed opposition forces remains a key priority, as does separating moderate opposition forces from Nusra.
The Sides will designate a date and time at which the following measures will go into effect (designated as Day "D’’).
1. On Day "D," all parties to the cessation of hostilities (CoH) in Syria will recommit to the CoH and honor its terms in full, as set forth in the February 22, 2016 Joint Declaration of the Russian Federation and the United States, for a 48 hour period. In particular, these terms include: ceasing all attacks with any weapons, including aerial bombardments, rockets, mortars, and anti-tank guided missiles; refraining from acquiring or seeking to acquire territory from other parties to the CoH; allowing humanitarian agencies rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained access throughout areas under their operational control and allowing immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need; employing proportionate use of force (i.e. no greater than required to address an immediate threat) if and when responding in self-defense. The Sides will agree and inform all parties as to the date and time for "Day D."
2. On D+2, if the CoH in Syria has continued to hold to the mutual satisfaction of the Sides, they will extend it for a mutually agreed upon period of time. Subsequently, the Sides may decide to extend the CoH indefinitely, under the same terms. The Sides will use their influence with the parties to fully honor the terms of the CoH.
3. Special measures will also go into effect for the Castello Road area in Aleppo (as defined by mutually determined coordinates), specifically:
a. Beginning Day D, and even prior to the establishment of checkpoints on the Castello road, humanitarian assistance will be delivered consistent with the terms of the CoH and established UN procedures, and in coordination with relevant UN representatives. At the Turkish border, the UN Monitoring Mission (UNMM) will continue to inspect and seal the trucks designated for delivery of humanitarian assistance via Castello Road to Eastern Aleppo. The seals will not be broken and the trucks will not be opened by any authority between the point of their review and sealing in Turkey and the point of their unloading at UN and its partners’ warehouses in east and west Aleppo.
b. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) (or another agreed upon third party) will operate as soon as possible two checkpoints (at agreed upon locations) to verify that, until the UNOPS (or another agreed upon third party) checkpoints are established as clearly described below in this paragraph, only trucks inspected by the UNMM are transiting the road, and that the seals have not been broken. A small detachment of no more than twenty armed personnel per shift provided by, and mutually acceptable to, the government and opposition forces, will provide security for the SARC personnel at the checkpoints on the western and eastern ends of the Castello Road, respectively. The UN will monitor (by physical presence or remotely) the activities of all personnel at the checkpoints. These SARC-manned checkpoints and physical security for them will be handed over to independent, international personnel under the direction of UNOPS (or another agreed upon third party), as soon as they can be deployed. These internationally-managed checkpoints will provide for the phased-in unrestricted movement of all humanitarian, commercial and civilian traffic on Castello Road, as well as the non-use of the road for the transport of weapons (in accordance with procedures to be developed). Phasing will proceed as quickly as possible, when those managing the checkpoints assess, in consultation with the UN and the Sides, that they have the capabilities to accommodate the traffic in a safe and orderly manner.
c. Simultaneous with the establishment of the SARC (or another agreed upon third party) checkpoints indicated in 3(b), pro-government forces and opposition units will pull back simultaneously from Castello Road, and the vacated area will be considered a "demilitarized zone."
Specifically, pro-government forces will:
Pull back heavy weapons such as armored fighting vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles (other than BTR-60 and BMP-1 without ATGM), tanks, artillery, and mortars, to a distance of 3,500m north of the road;
Pull back crew-served machine guns, BTR-60 and BMP-1 without ATGM to a distance of 2,500m north of the road;
Pull back all personnel, other than those present at two observation posts, to a distance of 1,000m north of the road armed with only small arms or light machine guns;
On the south side of the road, pull back all personnel, weapons and equipment to a distance of 500m from the road;
Establish up to two observation posts no less than 500m north of Castello road. The locations will be mutually agreed upon, depending on terrain, with a staff of up to 15 persons equipped with small arms only for self-defense and observation equipment;
Not impede any humanitarian, civilian and commercial traffic transiting Castello Road; and
Not occupy areas that opposition groups vacate or set up positions in the demilitarized zone, other than the observation posts.
Opposition forces will simultaneously undertake the following actions:
On the eastern end of Castello Road on the agreed-upon map (to be determined), the opposition will operate depending on the actions of the Kurdish militia units: if the Kurds are present north of Castello Road, the opposition will remain in place; if the Kurds pull back 500m south of Castello Road, the vacated area will be considered to be demilitarized and the opposition groups will pull back 500m north of the road;
On the western end of Castello Road (on the line of contact extending north from the Castello shopping complex), the opposition pullback will be conducted analogous to the withdrawal of pro-government forces enumerated above.
Opposition groups located in the 31/15 quadrant of the Russian-provided map, to the north of the Castello shopping complex, will:
Pull back heavy weapons such as armored fighting vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles (other than BTR-60 and BMP-1 without ATGM), tanks, artillery, and mortars, to a distance of 3,000m north;
Pull back crew-served machine guns, BTR-60 and BMP-1 without ATGM to a distance of 2,500m north;
Pull back all personnel to a distance of 1,000m north with only small arms or light machine guns;
Along the portion of the road that runs from the Castello shopping complex to near the Layramoun Circle, the opposition groups will pull back personnel and weapons to 500m north of Castello Road. This mirrors the pullback of pro-regime forces to 500m south of the Castello Road between those points;
Not impede any humanitarian, civilian and commercial traffic transiting Castello Road;
Will not occupy areas that pro-regime forces vacate or set up positions in the demilitarized zone, other than the observation posts; and
The opposition will make every effort to prevent Nusra forces from advancing into the demilitarized zone from opposition-held areas adjacent to it.
d. Any Syrians can leave Aleppo via Castello Road, including armed opposition forces with their weapons, with the understanding that no harm will come to them and they can choose their destination. Opposition forces leaving Aleppo with weapons must coordinate ahead of time with UN representatives as to the time they will be using Castello Road and the number of personnel and weapons and military equipment departing. It is also understood that no harm will come to civilians or to opposition forces who abide by the CoH and who choose to remain in Aleppo.
e. Any reported violations of the demilitarized zone by any party will be addressed by the United States and Russia. In the event of a penetration of the demilitarized zone by fighters from Nusra after the JIC has been established, the United States and Russia will act in accordance with the provisions of the JIC Terms of Reference (ToR).
f. On Day D, both pro-government forces and opposition groups in the Ramouseh gap will provide safe, unhindered and sustainable humanitarian access to eastern and western Aleppo. They will also facilitate unrestricted movement of all commercial and civilian traffic on the Khan Tuman Road in the Ramouseh Gap in coordination with the UN and establish a monitoring mechanism to be agreed to by the Sides and the UN as soon as possible to ensure access is unimpeded. For this purpose, technical teams from the Sides and the UN will convene by D+4. The delivery of humanitarian assistance will be consistent with the terms of the CoH and established UN procedures, and in coordination with relevant UN representatives. Neither the opposition groups nor pro-government forces will launch attacks within the area indicated in the attached map, and according to the corresponding geo-coordinates (hereinafter referred to as the "area"). Neither the opposition groups nor pro-government forces will attempt to acquire new territory from the other in the "area."
4. The Sides will confirm to each other that the Syrian government and opposition have agreed to adhere to the applicable obligations in the JIC’s ToR, including with respect to the Designated Areas (per geo-coordinates agreed upon by the Sides) where Syrian military aircraft cannot operate, except for agreed non-combat flights, and where the Sides will develop targets for action against Nusra.
5. The Sides will announce the establishment of the JIC, on the basis of the ToR and Designated Areas agreed by the Sides, once measures in paragraphs 1-4 above (with exception of the deployment of UNOPS checkpoints and associated movement of commercial and civilian traffic on the Castello Road and the implementation of the monitoring mechanism referenced in paragraph 3(f)) have been implemented to their mutual satisfaction, including at least seven continuous days of adherence to the CoH.
Ref A - Annex
The Sides will commence preparatory work for the JIC, beginning Day D. These preparations will include initial discussion and sharing of information necessary for the delineation of territories controlled by Nusra and opposition groups in the areas of active hostilities for the purpose of the ultimate operation of the JIC. The more comprehensive process of delineation will be conducted by experts once the JIC is established. Preparations for the JIC will also include: identifying suitable interim and long-term premises; determining necessary working procedures, consistent with the already agreed Terms of Reference (TOR); and determining if there are mutually agreeable adjustments that should be made, consistent with changes on the ground, to the already agreed map of the Designated Areas, so that the JIC can be fully functional as soon as there are seven continuous days of adherence to the CoH and access to Aleppo as per the terms of this understanding.
In the period between Day D and the establishment of the JIC, the Sides will each develop actionable Nusrah and Daesh (ISIL) targets so as to be in a position to share them in a way that allows strikes to commence on the day the JIC is established. Simultaneous with U.S. or Russian strikes on targets agreed to within the JIC, all Syrian military air activities - fixed and rotary wing - will be halted in the agreed designated areas pursuant to the agreed ToR.
On Day D, the government and opposition groups that are parties to the CoH shall confirm to the Sides their commitment to the CoH. Any violation of the CoH before or after the JIC is established will be dealt with in accordance with the terms for the CoH agreed to in the Joint Statement of February 22, 2016 and the Standard Operating Procedures to Support the Cessation of Hostilities of March 28, 2016.
The Sides commit to expedite the deployment of UNOPS on Costello Road as agreed in paragraph 3(b).
Day D will commence at 19:00 Damascus time on Monday, 12 September, 2016.
Each Side reserves the right to withdraw from this arrangement if they believe the terms have not been fulfilled.
Associated Press (USA)