Comprehensive Ceasefire in Syria to Begin at 00:00 on December 30
nsnbc : The General Command of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) announced the implementation of a comprehensive ceasefire in Syria starting at 00:00 on December 30. The announcement of the ceasefire was preceded by negotiations between Turkey and Russia and will be followed up by Russian, Iranian and Turkish talks in Astana. Representatives of the Syrian government could possibly participate in talks in Astana if the ceasefire holds, said Turkish diplomatic sources.
The announcement was made by the General Command of the Syrian Arab Army on December 29, 2016. The SAA General Command of the Army and Armed Forces, after the victories and advances achieved on more than one front, declares a comprehensive ceasefire across all the territories of the Syrian Arab Republic, starting at 00:00 on December 30, 2016.
The Command added that the terrorist organizations of Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS and the groups affiliated to them are excluded from the agreement, pointing out that the ceasefire comes with the aim of creating suitable circumstances for supporting the political track of the crisis in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the ceasefire on Russian television, stating that Damascus and the “main forces of the armed opposition” had signed a document on a cease-fire in Syria and also an announcement on their readiness to start peace talks.
The announcement of the ceasefire came after intense talks between Russia and Turkey, following the recent trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Moscow. On December 28 Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu hinted that Russia and Turkey could cooperate on ending the war in Syria. Russia Turkey and Iran are also scheduled to hold talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan, to be hosted by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Diplomatic sources in Turkey reported that a read map for a ceasefire and a political solution would include three stages.
- The ceasefire between the Syrian and allied forces and the main “opposition” forces with the exception if the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other forces with ties to Al-Qaeda. Russia and Turkey could act as guarantors of the ceasefire rather than as conflicting parties.
- Provided that such a truce is achieved, representatives of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic would be invited to participate in the talks in Astana where Turkey, Iran, and Russia would act as facilitators of talks rather than as negotiating parties. Turkey might want to have representatives of the United Nations present at the talks as facilitators, “if necessary”.
- Should the parties, during the talks in Astana, agree to continue the ceasefire, there would be a basis for expanding the initiative to also include initiatives to get initiatives for a political solution back on track. The so-called Geneva Talks under the auspices of the UN could be resumed sometime by February 2017 “as complementary to those talks.
The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has reportedly already contacted UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss details about the talks in Astana. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part is reportedly discussing the situation with both Da Mistura and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Turkey, for its part, has been in contact with a number of countries to discuss the ceasefire, the talks in Astana, and initiatives to get the political process back on track. Ankara reportedly discussed the details with representatives of the governments of the Unites States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar via these countries’ respective embassies in Ankara.
CH/L – nsnbc 29.12.2016