Nationwide ceasefire in Syria goes into effect

Published December 30th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
Syrian youths collect wood from rubble to be used for heating and cooking, on December 27, 2016, in the Damascus rebel-held eastern suburb of Zamalka. (Amer al-Mohibany)
Syrian youths collect wood from rubble to be used for heating and cooking, on December 27, 2016, in the Damascus rebel-held eastern suburb of Zamalka. (Amer al-Mohibany)

A nationwide ceasefire in Syria took effect at midnight (2200GMT) Dec. 30, after a deal was brokered with Turkey, Russia and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Within the scope of the ceasefire, warring parties pledged to stop armed attacks, from land or air, and not to expand territories against each other.

The United Nations Security Council will hold a closed meeting Friday to discuss the situation in the wake of the ceasefire, according to a UN statement that did not specify who called the meeting.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the Syrian regime and opposition decided groups designated as "terrorists" by the United Nations Security Council would fall outside the deal.

Turkey and the Russian Federation will act as guarantor countries in support of the ceasefire, a Turkish statement added.

"The parties, with this understanding, committed to cease all armed, including aerial, attacks, and refrain from acquiring territory from one another/expanding the territories under their control at the expanse of one another.

"Turkey and Russia strongly support and will jointly monitor the ceasefire/cessation of hostilities," the ministry said.

The statement added that Turkey would continue efforts to ensure a political transition in Syria on the basis of the Geneva Declaration and UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which mandates intra-Syrian talks.

Turkey said the Assad government and the opposition would soon meet in Astana, Kazakhstan, with the presence of the guarantor countries, to take significant steps toward revitalizing the UN-led political process.

"We welcome the understanding reached between the conflicting/warring parties in Syria on a country-wide ceasefire,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Defense Ministry said the regime’s General Command of the Armed Forces will abide by the comprehensive cessation of hostilities -- excluding Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the al-Nusra Front, plus affiliates.

"The move is aimed at creating favorable conditions to support the political course of the crisis in Syria," the Syrian military statement added.

In Washington, the US, which was not party to the negotiations, said it would welcome "any effort that stops the violence, saves lives, and creates the conditions for renewed and productive political negotiations.”

"The international community hopes this ceasefire will hold so a Syrian-led transition toward a more representative, united, and peaceful government can begin," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Anadolu Agency.


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