Merrit Kennedy | WYPR

Merrit Kennedy

President Obama has designated three desert areas in California as national monuments.

The move permanently protects "nearly 1.8 million acres of America's public lands," the White House says in a news release.

All three areas lie east of Los Angeles. Two of the new monuments — Castle Mountains and Mojave Trails — are near California's border with Nevada.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced late Thursday that they had agreed to push for a "nationwide cessation of hostilities" in Syria within one week.

The communiqué backed by major world powers also vowed to work toward getting humanitarian aid into hard-to-reach areas such as the city of Aleppo.

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