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Officials reach agreement toward ceasefire aimed at ending Syrian civil war, U.S. says

By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Feb. 11, 2016 at 7:50 PM

MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- International officials meeting in Germany to work toward a ceasefire in Syria and end the 5-year civil war reached an agreement toward halting hostilities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

Talks had been progressing at the 52nd annual Munich Security Conference earlier Thursday before Kerry said an agreement was struck among leaders to work on implementing a ceasefire.

Confirming the agreement, Kerry said it will result in the "cessation of hostilities" nationwide.

"I'm pleased to say that as a result today in Munich, we believe we have made progress on both the humanitarian front and the cessation of hostilities front, and these two fronts, this progress, has the potential -- fully implemented, fully followed through on -- to be able to change the daily lives of the Syrian people," Kerry said.

"First, we have agreed to accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid beginning immediately," he added. "Second, we have agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin in a target of one week's time. That's ambitious, but everybody is determined to move as rapidly as possible to try to achieve this."

The pact also allows quicker delivery of humanitarian aid to residents of the war-torn nation.

The agreement, however, does not address ongoing fighting between government and coalition forces and terror groups, including the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front.

A United Nations task force will be formed to ensure equal access on both sides, Kerry said.

Officials began meeting at the conference Wednesday, which is scheduled to run through Sunday.

"What we have here are words on paper. What we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground, in the field," Kerry said.

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