The UN Security Council unanimously approves a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syria peace process. Natasha Howitt reports.
In a rare show of unity among major world powers, a road map for a Syria peace process has been endorsed by the UN Security Council. Syria's nearly five-year civil war has claimed more than a quarter million lives. An opportunity for peace has now emerged. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON SAYING: "The people of Syria have suffered enough. I call for you to show vision and leadership in overcoming your differences. A fleeting opportunity for peace has emerged. Your duty is to seize it." Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition are expected to begin in January. The resolution outlines a roughly two-year timeline for creating a unity government and holding elections. A nationwide ceasefire is also written in, though it does not apply to the battle to defeat Islamic State. Still, obstacles to end the conflict remain. It is not known which of the Syrian opposition groups will have a seat at the table in the talks. The future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also remains unclear. Assad is a close ally of Russia and Iran, but Western countries want him ousted (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY PHILIP HAMMOND, SAYING: "It is Assad who bears the responsibility for the majority of the deaths in Syria." The issue has been the most difficult sticking point in talks. Foreign Ministers from the UK, France, and the U.S. called for Assad's departure. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "President Assad in our judgment, and not everybody shares, this, but the majority of people in the ISSG believe that President Assad has lost the credibility to be able to unite the country and to provide the moral credibility to be able to govern it into the future." Syria's UN ambassador said comments on the country's presidency were "out of the context of the resolution before the ink [was] dry", and exposed the speakers' "real intentions". Russia's foreign minister similarly stressed that Syria's future was for its people to decide - a point written into the resolution.