US Secretary of State, John Kerry says he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have struck a provisional deal on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria, indicating that the two sides are still in disagreement on some issues.
“We have reached a provisional agreement in principle on the terms of a cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days,” Kerry said Sunday, during a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The announcement came just hours after Syria’s Homs was hit by a deadly car bombing that killed at 46 people and wounded another 110.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said Sunday’s attack happened near the entrance to the city’s al-Arman neighbourhood.
Once dubbed the “capital of the revolution,” Homs city is now largely controlled by the regime.
Discussing the truce agreement, Kerry said he hoped President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin would talk soon and implementation could begin after that.
Russian airstrikes have turned the tide in Syria’s five-year-old civil war in Assad’s favour, to the frustration of the US and its allies who support rebels trying to topple the president. Attempts to negotiate a truce in recent months have failed. The latest round of talks at the UN in Geneva is being jointly chaired by Russia and the US.
No halt to Russian bombardments looked immediately likely. The spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said on Saturday: “Russia is sticking to its consistent policy of rendering assistance and aid to the armed forces of Syria in their offensive actions against terrorists and against terrorist organisations.”
For his part, Assad said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday that he was ready to implement a ceasefire but only if the rebels and their international backers such as Turkey did not use it as a chance to gain ground.
The fighting in Syria started as an unarmed uprising against Assad in March 2011, but has since expanded into a full-on conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people, according to UN estimates.
Millions more have been displaced, having fled to neighbouring countries and Europe.