Syria conflict: Turkey and Russia ‘agree ceasefire plan’ – BBC News

Syrian army soldiers make victory signs in the Sukkari district of Aleppo, Syria (23 December 2016)Image copyright
AP

Image caption

Turkey and Russia recently negotiated a ceasefire deal that saw rebels leave eastern Aleppo

Turkey and Russia have agreed on the terms of a proposed ceasefire in Syria, where they back opposing sides in the civil war, Turkish state media report.

The Anadolu news agency cited an unnamed source as saying the two states were working to ensure the ceasefire would start after midnight (22:00 GMT).

“Terrorist organisations” would be excluded from the deal, the source added, without giving further details.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government or opposition.

Russia – which has carried out an air campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad – and Turkey – a major backer of the rebellion – announced last week that they were ready to help end the war, after agreeing a set of principles for any peace deal. They were joined by Iran, another staunch Assad ally.

Anadolu said that if the proposed ceasefire held, peace talks would be convened in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, with Turkey and Russia acting as “guarantors”.

Earlier this month, the two countries negotiated a ceasefire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo that led to tens of thousands of rebel fighters and civilians being evacuated from the besieged, rebel-held east.

Image copyright
EPA

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The foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Russia have agreed a set of principles for a peace deal

The last round of UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict ended in April, after a nationwide cessation of hostilities negotiated by Russia and the US the previous month collapsed.

Another cessation of hostilities agreed in September was meant to see the US and Russia co-ordinate air strikes against two UN-designated terrorist organisations – so-called Islamic State and the rival jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. But it also broke down within days.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Interfax news agency that the Syrian government was consulting the opposition ahead of possible peace talks in Kazakhstan.

He did not specify which opposition groups were taking part, but the umbrella group representing most political and armed opposition factions, the High Negotiations Committee, said it knew nothing about the negotiations.

The HNC’s general co-ordinator, Riad Hijab, nevertheless said it supported “sincere regional efforts” to agree a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, at least 22 civilians, including 10 children, are reported to have been killed in an air strike on an IS-held village in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said unidentified warplanes had bombed the village of Hajna on Tuesday night.

Twelve members of one family and 10 from another were killed, it added.

IS-held territory in Syria is frequently targeted by the Syrian and Russian air forces, as well as a US-led multinational coalition battling the jihadist group.

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