The Syrian military on Thursday agreed to a nationwide ceasefire, which will come into force at midnight, AP reported. Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said that Turkey and Russia had agreed to a countrywide ceasefire in Syria and aimed to implement the deal before the new year.
“Russia and Turkey are guarantors in the agreement being worked on in Ankara,” Cavusoglu said in an interview to broadcaster Ahaber. “There is nothing final on whether Iran will sign it as a guarantor,” Reuters reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed the news, saying the countries will act as guarantors, according to AP.
The Turkish foreign minister, however, emphasised that all fighters from abroad in Syria need to leave the war-torn country immediately. “The Hezbollah need to return to Lebanon,” Cavusoglu added.
While the ceasefire agreement marks an indefinite progress in peace talks to bring in a truce in Syria, Turkey’s push for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down may not sit well with Russia, his biggest supporter. Moreover, Ankara’s insistence that the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah, who have been battling rebels alongside Syrian troops, may not favour negotiations with Iran, another Assad supporter, the Reuters report added.
According to the agreement, the ceasefire will be implemented across Syria, besides regions where government forces are fighting armed groups that were declared terrorist organisations by the United Nations, according to Al Jazeera. These include regions controlled by the Islamic State group and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.
The main rebel groups in Syria discussed the ceasefire deal with Turkey. However, the foreign relations head of rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, Labib Nahhas, said Russia’s demand to exclude Eastern Ghouta – a rebel stronghold near capital city Damascus – from any agreement was unacceptable. The Syrian Army has been making headway in Eastern of late, and seizing areas around the capital would be the major gain for Assad’s regime since retaking Aleppo.