U.N. Encourages, but Stops Short of Endorsing, Syria Cease-Fire

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously endorsed a resolution encouraging a new cease-fire in the war in Syria, adding international support for an agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey that has been in force for two days.

The resolution called for “rapid, safe and unhindered” access for the delivery of humanitarian aid, but stopped short of officially endorsing the truce. Language referring to an endorsement was removed from the text before the final vote because Western powers wanted to clarify the role of the United Nations in the agreement.

The cease-fire was announced by Russia on Thursday and is supposed to stop the fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the rebels seeking his ouster. The truce was arranged in preparation for peace talks next month in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

The United Nations has also announced plans for peace talks in Geneva in February.

While the rebels and the Syrian government, which is backed by Russia, have accused the other of violating the cease-fire and clashes and airstrikes have continued in some areas, the overall level of violence across Syria has declined, providing some hope that the truce will hold.

In the view of many analysts, however, the agreement has failed to address issues that have hampered previous peace talks, most important the future role of Mr. Assad. The opposition, a loose coalition of rebel groups who lack a unified leadership, says Mr. Assad’s departure is the key to ending the war.

But the rebels are under pressure militarily from pro-government forces, which include the Syrian Army and Shiite militias like Hezbollah from Lebanon. Those forces have benefited from direct intervention by the Russian Air Force, which has bombed rebel strongholds.

The rebels lost their last foothold in the city of Aleppo in December, a major blow to their movement that analysts said would be likely to make Russia and Mr. Assad less willing to compromise.

It was unclear how the vote at the United Nations would affect the cease-fire, as the Council has previously passed resolutions calling for the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid. Two other cease-fires brokered by the United States and Russia in 2016, one in February and one in September, fell apart in a matter of weeks.

Under the new cease-fire agreement, Russia is supposed to guarantee compliance by the Syrian government, while Turkey does the same for the opposition.

Antigovernment activists and conflict monitors reported clashes, shelling and airstrikes on Saturday in areas near the capital, Damascus, and farther north.

A spokesman for the rebel groups that have agreed to the cease-fire said they would abandon it on Saturday night if pro-government troops did not stop their attack on a rebel-held area north of Damascus called Wadi Barada. The same spokesman, Osama Abu Zeid, later wrote on Twitter that the attack had stopped and that the rebels were still following the truce.

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