U.S. and Russia Agree to Syrian Elections in 18 Months

Agreements regarding the fate of Syria were reached between the United States, Russia, and 17 other countries at talks held in Vienna this week. The countries called for peace talks in Syria to begin on January 1 and a ceasefire to be reached by mid-May. Free elections are to be held a year later in the war-torn country.

The talks mark the first time the United States and Russia have come to a consensus on Syria, which was not invited to the Vienna meeting.

The fate of Syrian President and Russian-ally Bashar al-Assad has yet to be discussed, however. U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that the civil war cannot be stopped if Assad is to remain in power, but Russia would likely support Assad’s bid for re-election.

Assad has stated that he opposes the international timetable for elections. In an interview with Italian state television this week, he insisted the peace process cannot begin while “terrorists” still control parts of Syria.

Both the United States and Russia consider ISIS to be a terrorist force, but no other consensus has been reached as to which of the groups fighting Assad are terrorists and which are legitimate political opposition.

Over 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad’s government began in March 2011.

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