Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Syria: Talks Between Turkey And Russia On A Truce

Turkey and Russia are discussing a ceasefire agreement across Syria, the Turkish pro-government agency Anadolu claiming that an agreement has been reached without the main players confirming it.

Labib Nahhas, the head of external relations of the powerful Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Cham, confirmed to AFP "to be aware of ongoing talks between Russia and Turkey on a national ceasefire" in Syria. But he said the rebel groups had received no official proposals and that there were still obstacles to a possible agreement.

Earlier, the Anadolu agency announced that Turkey and Russia had found a ceasefire agreement, an agreement that neither Moscow nor Damascus nor the Syrian rebels have/has confirmed.

According to Anadolu, who cited Wednesday morning "reliable sources", the plan aims to extend the ceasefire that was established two weeks ago in Aleppo to the entire country, thanks to negotiations sponsored by Moscow and Ankara that allowed The evacuation of civilians from the rebel districts of the second city of Syria.
But an official of the High Negotiating Committee (HCN), the main coalition of the opposition and rebels, said there was no information on the subject.

No mention of the agreement has been made either in the official Syrian media.

Prudence also in the Kremlin, whose spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have "enough information" to confirm this agreement. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who delivered a speech in the morning, did not address the issue.

Anadolu nevertheless pointed out that Moscow and Ankara were striving to bring the ceasefire into force at midnight without giving further details. Like previous agreements negotiated by the United States and Russia, it excludes "terrorist groups" (in the general sense, this term refers to the Islamic State group and the Fateh al-Sham group - ex-Front al -Nosra -).

If successful, this agreement should be the basis of the political negotiations between the regime and the opposition that Moscow and Ankara want to organize in January in Astana, Kazakhstan, according to Anadolu.
The agency did not specify when and how the deal was reached, but talks have been held in Ankara in recent weeks between Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian opposition.

A new meeting between Russian and Turkish representatives and the Syrian armed opposition is expected to take place on Thursday in Ankara, according to Al-Jazeera.


Russia and Turkey are very active in the Syrian conflict, where they support opposing parties, Ankara supporting the rebels while Moscow, like Iran, is a close ally of the Damascus regime.

But the two countries have engaged in close cooperation in Syria in recent months after a crisis due to the destruction of a Russian plane by Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border at the end of 2015.

Turkey thus remained silent when President Bashar al-Assad gained his greatest victory against the rebellion since the beginning of the conflict by taking over the whole of Aleppo last week, thanks to Russian aid.
No precise date was announced for the meetings in Astana, but a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova insisted on Tuesday that the meeting is still at the stage of " Development "and would not replace the Geneva peace process, where negotiations under the aegis of the UN are to take place in February.

The previous cease-fire agreements in Syria, negotiated by Washington and Moscow, soon stalled.

The Turkish president launched on Tuesday one of his most virulent attacks against Western policies in Syria, marked according to him with broken promises.
He then accused the international coalition led by the United States to support, besides the Kurdish militias that Turkey considers as terrorists, the group EI itself.

"The assertions that the US government is supporting Daech are false," the US embassy in Ankara said on Wednesday, citing a "considerable disinformation" from the Turkish media about the US position in Syria.

Mr. Erdogan criticized the Westerners for not supporting the military operations undertaken by the Turkish army in northern Syria, which has suffered increasing losses in recent weeks.

The Syrian conflict has claimed more than 310,000 lives since 2011.

On Wednesday morning, 22 civilians, including 10 children, were killed in air raids by unknown planes on an EI-held village in eastern Syria, in the province of Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory Rights (OSDH).

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