Europe

NATO Chief: Syria cease-fire best basis for peace

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, April 21, 2016. Stoltenberg will be on media tour of NATO flagship Bonn on the Aegean Sea , which is part of the flotilla patrolling the Aegean in an effort to curb migrant activity. Stoltenberg says efforts to stem the tide of migrants seeking the shores of Europe are working.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, April 21, 2016. Stoltenberg will be on media tour of NATO flagship Bonn on the Aegean Sea , which is part of the flotilla patrolling the Aegean in an effort to curb migrant activity. Stoltenberg says efforts to stem the tide of migrants seeking the shores of Europe are working.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad answers questions to media during a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad answers questions to media during a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, April 21, 2016. Stoltenberg will be on media tour of NATO flagship Bonn on the Aegean Sea , which is part of the flotilla patrolling the Aegean in an effort to curb migrant activity. Stoltenberg says efforts to stem the tide of migrants seeking the shores of Europe are working.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, April 21, 2016. Stoltenberg will be on media tour of NATO flagship Bonn on the Aegean Sea , which is part of the flotilla patrolling the Aegean in an effort to curb migrant activity. Stoltenberg says efforts to stem the tide of migrants seeking the shores of Europe are working.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Syria's fragile cease-fire remains best the hope for ending the conflict.

Speaking in the Turkish capital, Ankara, he said the cease-fire was "under strain" but remains the "best basis for a negotiated, peaceful solution to the crisis."

Stoltenberg noted that Russia has maintained a "considerable military presence" in support of the Syrian government despite announcing a partial withdrawal.

A February cease-fire agreement between President Bashar Assad's government and rebel fighters, which excluded extremist factions like the Islamic State group, greatly reduced violence in Syria but has all but collapsed in the north of the country amid faltering peace talks in Geneva.