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News ID: 6923
Asia » Asia
Publish Date: 18:33 - 29 December 2016
The Syrian military announced a nationwide halt to fighting starting at midnight, in a move that could promote the diplomatic efforts aimed at ending years of Takfiri violence in the Arab state.
Syrian army announces halt to fighting by midnightIn a statement carried by Syrian state news agency SANA, the Syrian army said the ceasefire, which will come into effect at 0000 GMT on December 30, does not include the Takfiri Daesh and Fateh al-Sham terror groups as well as their affiliates.

"The Army and the Armed Forces General Command on Thursday declared a comprehensive cessation of hostilities across all the territories of the Syrian Arab Republic starting at 00:00 on 30/12/2016 in the wake of the victories and advances achieved by the Syrian armed forces on more than a front,” read the statement.

"The ceasefire comes with the aim of creating suitable circumstances for supporting the political track of the crisis in Syria,” it added.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Damascus and foreign-backed militant groups had reached a truce deal brokered by Moscow and Ankara.

Putin said the agreement would be followed by peace talks between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the foreign-backed opposition.

The Russian president also announced Moscow is set to scale down its military presence in Syria following the cessation of hostilities.

"I agree with the proposal from the Defense Ministry for the reduction of our military presence in Syria,” Putin said in televised comments.

Moscow will continue supporting Assad and "fighting international terrorism in Syria,” he said, adding that the Russian military will maintain its presence at an air base in Syria’s Latakia Province and the naval facility in the port city of Tartus, Presstv reported.

The Russian head of state also said the agreement is the result of joint efforts by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

"We know that only recently there was a trilateral meeting in Moscow of the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, where all of the nations made obligations not only to control, but also to act as guarantors of the peace process in Syria,” Putin said.

Putin further said he would contact his Iranian and Turkish counterparts to discuss further steps in the Syrian peace process.

Meanwhile, the so-called National Coalition, Syria’s main opposition bloc based in Turkey, said it backed the nationwide ceasefire.

"The National Coalition expresses support for the agreement and urges all parties to abide by it,” said the coalition spokesman, Ahmed Ramadan.

Separately, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the truce, saying Ankara and Moscow will act as guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria.

"With this agreement, parties have agreed to cease all armed attacks, including aerial, and have promised not to expand the areas they control against each other,” the ministry said in a statement.

At the end of the December 20 trilateral meeting in Moscow, foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement on the Syrian issue, in which they emphasized the need for expanding the Aleppo truce.

The three sides expressed "readiness to facilitate and become the guarantors of the prospective agreement being negotiated between the Syrian government and the opposition.”

The countrywide ceasefire came one week after the Syrian army announced full control over Aleppo when the last remaining militants were evacuated along with civilians from the eastern sector of city under a truce deal mediated by Ankara and Moscow.

Later in the day, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan led a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart on the ceasefire before it enters into force at midnight, his spokesman said in a statement.

According to the statement, the two sides further held talks on the upcoming peace talks on Syria, which will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan. No exact date has so far been set for the start of the negotiations.

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