U.N. unanimously adopts resolution on Syria peace process

The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution that calls for talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups

Baku. 19 December. REPORT.AZ/ The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution Friday that calls for talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups as well as a cease-fire in the nation's 4-year-old civil war, Report informs citing USA Today.

However, the resolution doesn't mention what role Syrian President Bashar Assad will play. The Syrian leader is supported by close ally Russia, but the United States has said it would like to see him removed from power.

The disagreement has been a contentious issue in discussions on resolving the conflict, and Syrian opposition groups have said they will not participate in a cease-fire unless Assad agrees to step down as president.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the resolution sends a message that "the time is now to stop the killing in Syria and lay the groundwork for a government" that does not leave Syrians with a choice between Assad and the Islamic State.

Friday's resolution says elections must be held in the next 18 months but makes no mention of whether Assad will be able to run, the New York Times reported.

Delegates from across the world had gathered in New York earlier Friday to discuss the conflict, which has left 250,000 dead and caused millions of Syrians to flee, intensifying the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who hosted the U.N. meeting, said the resolution sends "a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria," AFP reported.

Still, the resolution acknowledged the conflict won't really end because it bars “terrorist groups” operating in the country, including the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, from participating in the cease-fire, the Associated Press reported.

Kerry also hosted a separate gathering of envoys from 20 countries in the International Syria Support Group that also sought ways to intensify the fight against the Islamic State, which holds large swaths of the country and has greatly exacerbated the war.

Before the meetings, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the longer the peace talks drag on without result the more risky they become.

“We need to make sure the political process is irreversible in the face of this severe threat posed by international terrorism,” he said. “We must realize the political process is going to go backward if we are not making progress."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Syrian people should choose their own leader, but "terrorists" should be eliminated from the country first. Russia has been targeting militants in the country with airstrikes, but the U.S. has raised concerns Moscow is hitting U.S.-backed rebel groups in addition to the Islamic State.

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