At least 255,000 killed in Syria during war
At least 255,000 people have been killed in Syria during the war, some sources say more than 500,000 have lost their lives, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the Lebanese capital. Ban called for the soonest possible termination of the conflict and noted the role Russia and the United States play in efforts on peace settlement. He said 4 million Syrians have become refugees and another 12 million people inside of the country need humanitarian assistance. Ban added that most part of Syria lies in ruins – over 50% of infrastructure has been destroyed. The UN chief said the war should be stopped as soon as possible, which demands political will of the leaders and decision on the part of Syrians. On March 24, the first round of indirect intra-Syrian talks ended in Geneva. Their participants – a delegation of the Syrian government and a delegation of the opposition – did not meet each other but communicated through special envoy of the UN secretary general on Syria Staffan de Mistura. Discussions are due to resume in the first half of April. The ceasefire regime took effect in Syria on February 27. An hour before, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution supporting a cessation of hostilities. The document drafted by Russia and the United States was backed by all 15 Security Council member states. The ceasefire regime does not cover the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations as well as other groups ruled terrorist by the Security Council. The United Nations has noted that the ceasefire regime, despite separate cases of violations, has been observed on the whole and has led to a considerable reduction of the level of violence in Syria. Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad. On March 14, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to start, from March 15, withdrawing the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ group from Syria. Putin said the tasks set before the military “have been fulfilled on the whole.” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said strikes on terrorists will continue to be delivered.