Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced that they had agreed on the delivery over the next few days of desperately needed aid to besieged Syrian cities, to be followed by a cease-fire that is supposed to clear the way for renewed peace talks.

“We have agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities in one week’s time,” Mr. Kerry said. “That is ambitious.”

“The real test is whether all the parties honor those commitments,” he said, sitting next to Mr. Lavrov.

If executed, the agreement, forged by the International Syria Support Group, would mark the first sustained and formally declared halt to fighting in Syria since the civil war began in 2011, early in the Arab uprisings. But the cease-fire would be partial — it excludes the Islamic State and the Nusra group, both designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations — and highly fragile.

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Image courtesy of New York Times

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