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Russia and Turkey Agree on Cease Fire in Syria

Russia and Turkey reached an agreement on a ceasefire between the Syrian Army and the opposition armed groups on a nationwide scale, Turkey’s foreign minister said. The minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that the two countries have come to an agreement on the ceasefire issue and even prepared a text of the truce accord to be presented to the warring parties. “There are two texts ready on a solution in Syria. One is about a political resolution and the other is about a ceasefire. They can be implemented any time,” Cavusoglu told reporters at an awards ceremony at the presidential palace in Ankara.

However, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the agreement. “I cannot answer this question now, I do not have sufficient information right now,” he said. However, he confirmed that Russia and Turkey are engaged in a “constant” discussion in Astana of the various sides in the Syrian conflict.

The ceasefire plan is expected to be implemented in all areas where the Syrian Army is engaged in a fight with the armed opposition and will come into force as early as midnight on Wednesday, December 28, (22:00 GMT), Turkish state Anadolu news agency reported earlier.

The agreement does not include terrorist organizations such as Al Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), which would would continue to be destroyed by the Syrian Army, Anadolu says.

If the ceasefire is successfully implemented and upheld, negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition will start in the Kazakh capital, Astana, in early 2017, the news agency added.

The talks would not include the United States and are expected to be separate from the UN-brokered negotiations that were held in Geneva several times but failed to bring any significant results.

Meanwhile, a representative of one of the opposition factions told Reuters that no agreement on a ceasefire had been reached with the opposition yet. “The details of the ceasefire deal have yet to be officially presented to the factions,” he said.

A Saudi-backed Syrian opposition group said it knew nothing of the negotiations, but supported a ceasefire because they are being decimated.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura welcomed the efforts by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran to establish a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and launch a meaningful political dialogue between various sides of the Syrian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia, Iran and Turkey said last week they were ready to help broker a peace deal after holding talks in Moscow, where they adopted a declaration setting out the principles any agreement should adhere to.

The declaration was passed by the three countries during the negotiations in Moscow on December 20.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow, Tehran and Ankara have come up with a document that aims to improve the situation in war-torn Syria. These measures are intended to help bring about “the revival of the political process to end the Syrian conflict,” he said.

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