Syria peace talks to resume on March 7: UN envoy

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks during a meeting in Geneva 2016 on February 25, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Syria's government and rebels will re-start peace talks on March 7 if a ceasefire holds and more humanitarian aid reaches civilians in dire need, the UN envoy said Friday.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura announced the date for the new round of talks less than an hour before a cessation of hostilities was due to enter into force at 2200 GMT.

The UN Security Council threw its weight behind the ceasefire agreement, unanimously adopting a resolution drafted by Russia and the United States endorsing the truce.

"Assuming that the cessation of hostilities largely holds -- God willing -- and the humanitarian access continues unabated, I intend to reconvene... the talks, the intra-Syrian talks on Monday, March 7," De Mistura told the Security Council.

"Saturday will be critical," De Mistura said. "No doubt, there will be no shortage of attempts to undermine this process."

De Mistura suspended peace talks in early February as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, went on the offensive in northern Aleppo province.

Russia and the United States have set a deadline of midnight Damascus time (2200 GMT) Friday for the cessation of hostilities between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and non-jihadist rebel forces.

The deal excludes the Islamic State group and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which control large swaths of territory in Syria.

The resolution endorses the ceasefire deal and "demands" that the cessation of hostilities "begin at midnight (Damascus time)".

The measure urges all countries, in particular those taking part in the Syrian peace process, to "use their influence with the parties to the cessation of hostilities to ensure fulfillment of those commitments."

The resolution renews a call to allow humanitarian aid to be quickly and safely be delivered once the ceasefire takes hold, in particular to besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

It lists about 30 areas in need of urgent aid deliveries, including eastern and western rural Aleppo and the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which is under siege by Islamic State jihadists.

The resolution calls for peace talks to resume "as soon as possible."

It describes the cessation of hostilities as "a step towards a lasting ceasefire."