Syria – nationwide ceasefire proposed

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RUSSIA and Turkey have reached an agreement on a proposal for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria from midnight, Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency reported yesterday.

This came after the two sides brokered a truce that put an end to years of fighting in the northwestern city of Aleppo. The deal was carved out between Moscow and Ankara, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the Islamists fighting Damascus, at the negotiations, Anadolu reported.

The agreement envisages the extension of the ceasefire in Syria’s second city of Aleppo to the entirety of the Arab country. The ceasefire regime, which was set to take effect at midnight, excludes ‘terror’ groups, added the report, without identifying particular groups. Russia and Turkey have, accordingly, named themselves as the ‘guarantors’ of the truce process.

If the truce survives sabotage, it will form the basis of upcoming political negotiations between Damascus and the hostile parties, the agency added. Russia and Turkey are in constant contact on possible talks on the Syrian settlement in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

‘Indeed, constant contacts with the Turkish colleagues are held to discuss various modes of a possible dialogue that is planned in Astana. All this is in line of searching for political settlement in Syria,’ Peskov said.

Peskov refused to comment on Turkey’s media reports that Moscow and Ankara had agreed on a plan of a comprehensive ceasefire in Syria. ‘I cannot answer this question now, I have not enough information,’ he stressed.

Qadri Jamil, leader of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation and representative of the ‘Moscow group’ of the Syrian opposition, earlier told TASS that the talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Astana will be held in the second half of January 2017. The effort will be continued in Geneva, where UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura plans to launch the next round of talks on February 8.