Barack Obama: "Assad is going to have to leave" before peace in Syria is achieved

UN Security Council last night agreed a draft resolution to establish peace in the country

Barack Obama: "Assad is going to have to leave" before peace in Syria is achieved

Image: Carolyn Kaster / AP/Press Association Images

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at establishing peace in Syria.

The document, approved by the United States, Russia, China, France, the UK and the 10 other nations, endorses an international roadmap for a peace process in the war-torn country.

Diplomats say it will endorse the previously agreed timetable for creating a transitional government in Syria and the holding of UN-monitored elections.

All parties will be expected to "immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects".

The text of the resolution also says the "Syrian people will decide the future of Syria".

Talks about the transition will be held between the government and the opposition by early January, the resolution said.

It came as US President Barack Obama, in his pre-Christmas address, said that as long as Bashar al Assad remains Syrian president, Syria cannot be stable.

He added that there has to be an end to the civil war in Syria in order to prevent Islamic State having a safe haven.

He said that IS is on the run, but will continue to be dangerous for some time.

Russia, an ally of Syria, had previously reiterated its support for Mr Assad, saying he should have a role in the country's transition.

US secretary of state John Kerry said after the council met there remain "sharp differences" on the fate of Mr Assad.

The text makes no mention of Mr Assad's future.

He said: "This council is sending a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria and lay the groundwork for a government that the long-suffering people of that battered land can support."

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius also cast doubt on the future of process if Mr Assad remains, saying guarantees were required and the idea that he could stand in any elections that follow was "unacceptable for us".

The UK's foreign secretary Philip Hammond said: "There will be many challenges ahead.

"There will be some setbacks and stumbles along the way but the fact that we've got a UN resolution, backed by the permanent five members, including Russia, the fact that we've got an ongoing process, with oppositionists working together on a common platform, the fact that we've got the relevant international powers round the table, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all points to some real progress."

The resolution also bars Islamic State and al Nusra Front from participating in a ceasefire.

The war in Syria is believed to have left more than 250,000 people dead and forced four million from their homes.