Russia and Turkey reach Syria ceasefire deal

Russia and Turkey reach Syria ceasefire deal
SYRIA Revolt_4.jpg
SYRIA Revolt_4.jpg

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said a Syrian ceasefire agreement has been reached with Turkey.

Mr Putin said Russia and Turkey will guarantee the truce, which is set to begin at midnight.

He said it will be followed by peace talks between Syrian president Bashar Assad's government and the opposition, and that the Syrian parties will take part in talks to be held in Kazakhstan at a later date.

Syria's military has agreed to a nationwide ceasefire, starting at midnight.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said the truce will include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria, and that the Russian military has established a hotline with its Turkish counterpart to monitor compliance.

Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said US president-elect Donald Trump's administration will be welcome to join the Syrian peace process once he takes office.

Russia is a key ally of Mr Assad, while Turkey is one of the main backers of the opposition.

Several previous attempts to halt the Syrian civil war have failed.

In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, the Syrian military command "declares a comprehensive nationwide cessation of hostilities as of midnight".

State TV said the ceasefire paves the way for reactivating negotiations to end the conflict.

It said the ceasefire comes after the "successes achieved by the armed forces", an apparent reference to the capture of rebel-held neighbourhoods of Aleppo earlier this month.

Mr Putin has ordered the Russian military to scale down its presence in Syria.

He said Russia will continue "fighting international terrorism in Syria" and supporting Mr Assad's military. He did not specify how many troops and which weapons will be withdrawn.

Mr Putin also said that the Russian military will maintain its presence at both an air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and the naval facility in the port of Tartus.

Mr Lavrov said Egypt will be invited to join the peace process, and that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan could also be involved.