Syria, Russia and Turkey have declared that a ceasefire will come into effect at midnight on Thursday in Syria – but it won’t include Islamic state or a group which once had links to al-Qaida.
Vladimir Putin sounded a note of caution:
“The agreements reached are of course fragile and need special attention and involvement for their preservation and development. But nevertheless, this is a notable result of our joint work.”
The main opposition group the Syrian National Coalition says it supports the ceasefire, which is one of many that have been attempted by the UN, the US, Russia and Turkey at various times.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said details on who would act as guarantors of the ceasefire were still being worked out.
“Regarding the agreement that will be signed by the regime, there is nothing final on whether Russia will be the only guarantor to sign it or whether it will be signed by Iran as well. But it is agreed that Russia will be a guarantor,” he said.
Russia and Turkey remain on opposing sides: Russia is militarily supporting Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad whilst Turkey wants to see him ousted.
Russian support for the regime has seen a reversal of fortune for Assad. Before the Russians began air strikes on Assad’s enemies he was losing the war. Now, after more than a year of strikes, Assad has regained control of the strategically important second city Aleppo which may turn out to be the turning point in the conflict.
Meanwhile the horror continues for civilians as the nearly six year old war grinds on.
Forty people, including several children, were killed in air strikes on Thursday targeting rebel-held territory in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.