Turkey and Russia begin talks about possible Syrian ceasefire

Syrian workers remove rubble as they clean up the water station in Aleppos Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Syrian workers remove rubble as they clean up the water station in Aleppos Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Share this article
0
Have your say

Turkish and Russian officials are discussing the contours of a cease-fire for Syria, Syrian opposition factions said yesterday.

The move appears to be building on co-operation between the two countries following a deal they brokered for the evacuation of opposition fighters from the northern city of Aleppo earlier this month.

Several rebel groups said, however, that they are withholding their approval of any agreement until they receive details about its terms.

An official with one of the factions told reporters that Russian and Turkish officials were debating a cease-fire proposal that would encompass the whole of Syria. Rebels have spoken up in the past against proposals that would allow the government to continue its offensives around the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

Turkey’s Anadolu Agency said yesterday morning that Ankara and Moscow had reached an agreement, but there was no confirmation from state officials.

The Syrian opposition official said factions were holding vigorous discussions over the possibilities.

Another official with a different group said the proposal has not been formally presented to the opposition.

“It is difficult to accept or refuse the matter before we look at the details, of course,” said the official.

The Anadolu report said a plan would be presented to all sides of the Syria conflict and aims for a cease-fire that would come into force “in all regions” where fighting between pro-government forces and opposition groups is taking place. It quoted unnamed officials.

Terror organisations would be kept out of the scope of the cease-fire agreement, the agency said, without elaborating on which insurgent groups would be considered terror organisations.

It said a peace process in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana would go ahead under Russia and Turkey’s leadership if the cease-fire holds.

Anadolu said the two countries would act as “guarantors” of the peace process.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman confirmed Russia and Turkey were in “constant contact” to prepare for planned Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan, but did not comment about the possibility of a cease-fire.

In the UN, a top Russian diplomat said a draft UN Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria for chemical weapons use is unacceptable to Moscow, which has veto power on the council.

A resolution drafted by Britain and France would impose sanctions on an array of Syrian individuals, organisations and companies allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in the war-torn country. It would also ban sales of helicopters to Syria.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by the state news agency Tass yesterday as saying the resolution “is categorically unacceptable to us. We warn them against attempts to fan tensions in the UN Security Council.”

MrPutin’s spokesman says Russia and Turkey are in “constant contact” to prepare for planned Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan.

Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t comment on yesterday’s report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency that claimed Moscow and Ankara had reached an agreement on a plan for a cease-fire comprising the whole of Syria. The report quoting unnamed sources said the two countries were working to ensure that the cease-fire would come into effect at midnight.

Neither country has announced a date for these proposed talks.

In Syria, activists said at least 20 civilians have been killed in an airstrike on an Islamic State-held village.