Syria: Four years of efforts to end the conflict

Beirut (AFP) –


A partial cessation of hostilities in Syria, due to start at midnight local time on Friday, follows multiple failed attempts to resolve the conflict since its erupted in 2011.

A recap of previous initiatives:


November 2, 2011: Arab League says it has reached an agreement with Syria to end the fighting, free detainees and withdraw troops from cities. None of the clauses are respected. The League eventually suspends Syria and approves unprecedented sanctions against Damascus. In early 2012, Damascus formally rejects the plan and says it is determined to crush the rebellion.


April 12, 2012: UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan manages to establish a truce, but it collapses within hours.


June 30, 2012: A so-called action group meeting in Geneva says it has reached agreement on a Syrian transition of power, but differing interpretations of the deal emerge. The group consists of Arab states, Britain, China, France, Russia, Turkey and the United States. Washington says it marks the start of a "post-Assad" period, in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Beijing and Moscow maintain that it is up to the Syrians to determine their own future.


September 14, 2013: Russia and the United States agree in Geneva to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons, after an attack -- widely blamed on Assad's regime despite its denials -- kills hundreds of people near Damascus. The deal averts a threatened US-led strike against Syria at the last minute.


January 22-31, 2014: Negotiations take place in Switzerland between representatives of the Syrian government, backed by Russia, and opposition figures, backed by the United States. It ends without results. On February 15, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who has replaced Annan, puts an end to the talks. He resigns on May 13, after more than 20 months of fruitless efforts. In July, he is replaced by Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura.


October 30, 2015: A month after the start of Russian air strikes in Syria at the request of Damascus, 17 countries, including Russia, the United States, France and for the first time Iran meet in Vienna. The regime and opposition are absent from the talks. The meeting breaks up with participants in deep disagreement over the fate of Assad.

- November 14: World diplomats gathered in Vienna agree on a fixed calendar for Syria but remain sharply at odds over Assad.


December 18, 2015: For the first time, the 15-nation UN Security Council unanimously adopt a plan for a political solution, including negotiations between the opposition and the regime as well as a ceasefire. The text provides for a transitional government within six months and elections within 18 months.


January 29, 2016: UN-sponsored negotiations between the regime and opposition open in Geneva. On February 3, the inter-Syrian talks are suspended amid a regime offensive in the Damascus region, backed by Russian airpower, against rebels.


February 12, 2016: The 17-nation Syria Support Group, co-chaired by Russia and the US, agree in Munich, Germany, to seek a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria within a week. The truce is ignored.

On February 22, the US and Russia announce plans for a landmark cessation of hostilities to take effect in Syria on February 27 at midnight local time (Friday 2200 GMT). Accepted by the regime, the Syrian opposition and Syrian Kurdish forces, it excludes the main jihadist factions.