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Syria ceasefire comes into force, but observers report gunfire

Peace talks on Syria are expected within a month, if the truce holds.

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Syria ceasefire comes into force, but observers report gunfire

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A ceasefire deal between the Syrian regime and some 13 opposition rebel groups, has come into force. Russia and Turkey are to be guarantors to the agreement, which took effect from midnight local time (11pm CET).

Peace talks are to begin in Kazakhstan on January 18, if the truce holds.

However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports gunfire has been heard in the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra since the deal came into effect, although no casualties have been reported.

Syria’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, appeared hopeful the agreement would bring progress.

“At the same time, there is a real chance to reach a political settlement to end the bloodshed and establish the future of the country,” he told reporters.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), an opposition group backed by Turkey, said Syria’s future would not include current President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has the support of Russia.

Spokesman Osama Abu Zaid added:
“This ceasefire covers the whole of Syria. At the same time this deal covers all groups of fighters in Syria in the field. During the talks, the Russian government guaranteed to us that they will keep the Syrian regime forces and their allies under control.”

After nearly six years of conflict in Syria, difficulties could lie ahead. Russia, which announced the ceasefire, labelled it “fragile,” while the FSA says it will retaliate against any violation of the agreement.