A nationwide ceasefire in Syria, brokered by Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides in the conflict, came into force at midnight on Friday in the latest attempt to end nearly six years of bloodshed, Reuters reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced the ceasefire on Thursday after preparing the agreement with Turkey, a longtime backer of the opposition.
A number of rebel groups have signed the agreement, Russia’s Defence Ministry said. Several rebel officials acknowledged the deal, and a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a loose alliance of insurgent groups, said it would abide by the truce.
One FSA commander was optimistic about the truce deal, the third attempt this year at a nationwide ceasefire.
“This time I have confidence in its seriousness. There is new international input,” Colonel Fares al-Bayoush said, without elaborating.
It is the first ceasefire deal reached without the involvement of the United States or the United Nations.
The previous two, brokered by Cold War foes Washington and Moscow, took effect in February and September but both collapsed within weeks as warring sides accused each other of truce violations and fighting intensified.
Putin said the parties were also prepared to start peace talks intended to take place in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Syrian state media said late on Thursday that these talks would take place “soon”.
The Syrian government will be negotiating from a strong position after its army and their allies, including Shi’ite militias supported by Iran, along with Russian air power, routed rebels in their last major urban stronghold of Aleppo this month.
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