Syria ceasefire begins with Russian and Turkish support

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Destruction seen in war-torn Syrian central city of Homs. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Damascus – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said an agreement has been reached on a Syria ceasefire, with Russia and Turkey to act as guarantors.

Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the government starting at midnight (2200 GMT on Thursday), and said the parties were also prepared to start peace talks.

Turkey had earlier said that Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, which has sent thousands of fighters to support President Bashar Assad, should withdraw from Syria as a condition.

Russia will serve as guarantor of regimes compliance, while Turkey would guarantee commitment by rebel groups.

The Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Thursday there was a “real chance” to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict, after Damascus’s ally Russia announced a ceasefire deal that was to take effect at midnight.

Al-Moualem also said Syria would attend planned peace talks in Kazakhstan “with an open mind”.

“Everything is open for discussion, with the exception of national sovereignty, and the people’s right to choose its leadership,” he said in a live interview on state television.

Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies said on Thursday they approved a blueprint for a system of federal government in northern Syria.

“The social contract draft was ratified … and the executive committee will prepare for elections” first to regional administrations and later to a central body, an official said, without giving a date for the votes.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura welcomed the announcement of a Syria ceasefire deal on Thursday and said he hoped it would save civilian lives, enable the delivery of aid and lead to productive peace talks in Astana.

“These developments should (also) contribute to inclusive and productive intra-Syrian negotiations to be convened under UN auspices on 8 February 2017,” de Mister’s spokesperson said on Thursday.

Agencies 

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