31 December, 2016
Putin on Thursday announced a new cease-fire deal between rebel forces and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem had said that fighters from more than 80 countries have joined insurgent groups trying to remove Assad from power while the Syrian government is backed by fighters from countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Russian Federation. Turkey's Foreign Ministry says groups regarded as terror organizations by the UN Security Council will be excluded from the ceasefire, apparently referring to ISIS and the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Front.
Turkey and Russian Federation are guarantors of the ceasefire agreement, adding both countries "strongly support and will jointly monitor the ceasefire".
Three documents: a ceasefire agreement between the opposition and the Syrian government; safeguards to ensure the ceasefire works; and a statement of intent to begin peace talks have been signed, according to reports citing Putin.
Putin said that the agreements on Syria are fragile - they require special attention and patience and constant contact among partners.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said seven opposition groups, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham, had signed the deal and those who failed to adhere would be considered "terrorists".
Turkey and Russian Federation are reported to have agreed on a ceasefire plan for Syria and are working to make sure it goes into effect at midnight. Astana, the Kazakh capital, staged Syrian peace talks in 2015, but critics said they excluded most of the mainstream opposition and so were largely pointless. Lavrov said it's possible that the US will also back the accord after Donald Trump takes office as president next month.
The proposed ceasefire is the third such deal of putting a halt to the fighting among all groups involved in the civil war. The recapture of the city means Assad now controls the overwhelming majority of Syria's population centers.
"Those various groups have to leave Syria and the Hezbollah should return to Lebanon", Cavusoglu said in the interview with Turkey's A Haber news channel.
Vitaly Naumkin, a Russian adviser to Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy on Syria, said the talks could start before Donald Trump's inauguration as USA president on Jan 20.
If successful, the plan will form the basis of upcoming political negotiations between the Damascus regime and the opposition overseen by Russian Federation and Turkey in the Kazakh capital Astana, it added.
Lavrov and Zarif discussed the developments in Syria and details around it, the ministry said in a statement.
Reuters reported that Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member country, called on the US-led coalition on 26 December to offer more air support in the al-Bab operations, but this has not yet been forthcoming.
Turkey has illegally deployed troops inside Syria to purportedly fight Kurdish and Daesh militants, prompting strong condemnation by Damascus. In effect, the United States has only complicated matters in Syria. "They were accusing us of supporting Daesh", Erdogan said during a press conference in Ankara.