A US- and Russia-brokered temporary ceasefire took effect in Syria on Monday, calling for a break in airstrikes by the Syrian regime against opposition forces. The ceasefire allows for humanitarian access to areas marred by the conflict, including Aleppo. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal could be a “last chance to save a united Syria.” If a ceasefire holds for seven days, the US and Russia will collaborate on airstrikes against extremists, including ISIS, and Syria will not fly military aircraft over rebel-held areas. “This is the only realistic and possible solution to this conflict,” Kerry said during a Monday speech. However, immediately after the deal went into effect, Syrian military aircraft dropped bombs on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, The New York Times reported. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday, before the ceasefire took effect, that he is “determined to retake every area from the terrorists and restore security and safety,” the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.