Syrian government, rebels sign cease-fire deal, says Russia




ANKARA, Turkey >> Russia’s president and the Syrian army said Thursday that a nation-wide cease-fire agreement has been reached with opposition rebels, set to begin at midnight. The deal was confirmed by the Turkish foreign ministry.

Vladimir Putin said the cease-fire, which excludes extremist groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliate, will be guaranteed by Russia and Turkey. He said it will be followed by peace talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and the opposition, and that the Syrian parties would take part in talks to be held in Kazakhstan, without specifying a date.

Syria’s military said it agreed to a nationwide cease-fire starting at midnight, adding that it paves the way for reactivating negotiations to end the conflict. It said the cease-fire comes after the “successes achieved by the armed forces,” an apparent reference to the capture of rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo earlier this month.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the truce will include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria, and that the Russian military has established a hotline with its Turkish counterpart to monitor compliance.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will be welcome to join the Syrian peace process once he takes office.

Russia is a key ally of Assad, while Turkey is one of the main backers of the opposition. Several previous attempts to halt the civil war have failed…

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