22 March 2018

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Astana, the new round of talks on ceasefire in Syria

Today's meeting was attended by Russian, Iranian and Turkish delegates, together with representatives of the United Nations. Jordanian diplomats present for the first time. The talks focused on the "control principle" of the truce in force since the end of December. The Syrian Democratic Forces prepare new phase in Raqqa offensive, jihadi stronghold in Syria.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Russian, Iranian and Turkish government experts, together with representatives of the United Nations, gathered this morning in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, to discuss a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire in Syria.

Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the summit today fits into the groove of the meetings in late January, the "first direct peace talks" between government and opposition.

During the talks between government representatives and opposition leaders in Astana showed the importance of the principle of monitoring the truce, due to persistent violence on the ground which threatens to plunge the country back in total war every day.

The negotiations taking place - with the participation for the first time of delegates from Jordan - should prepare the ground for peace negotiations under the UN auspices, to be held February 20 in Geneva (Switzerland).

If from a theoretical point of view the ceasefire reached in late December with the mediation of Moscow and Ankara is still in force, the fighting on the ground - and in particular in some areas - continues unabated, causing casualties and damage.

The clashes are mainly concentrated in the region of Damascus and the west of Aleppo, where the militia fighters who fled the northern metropolis of the country following the Russian-Syrian military victory found refuge.

For the first time, representatives of the government and opposition sat at the same table in Astana, to discuss possible solutions to ensure a lasting truce in the Arab country. At the end of two days of talks, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran agreed to guarantee the continuation of the truce in Syria and block any violations.

In a joint statement issued by representatives of the three countries - but not the parties concerned - the  commitment of each power to "restrain" their faction and prevent further violence is stated.

Jihadist groups such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) are excluded from the ceasefire.

Meanwhile in Raqqa, an IS stronghold in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced the beginning of a "new phase" for the conquest of the city, for years in the hands of the so-called Caliphate. The goal, say the leaders of the alliance, is to surround the area and regain control after having annihilated the jihadist militias.

The operation of the Arab-Kurdish forces should garner the growing support of the international coalition (US-led), which would provide air cover necessary for the progression of the forces on the ground. The coalition support is also ensured through the presence on the ground of "special forces unit."

See also

25/01/2017 12:30:00 KAZAKHSTAN - SYRIA
Timid "breakthrough" in first direct peace talks on Syria in Astana

For Turkey, the meeting has increased the level of "trust" between the two sides. Russian expert: "The beginning of a" process with an important aspect in "psychological terms." But positions between government and rebels remain distant, awaiting UN meeting in Geneva.


16/03/2018 10:14:00 SYRIA - KAZAKHSTAN
Astana, diplomacy at work for a ceasefire. Evacuation of Ghouta east continues

Foreign ministers from Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in the capital of Kazakhstan. A preparatory meeting ahead of the presidents’ summit on April 4 in Istanbul. Yesterday 20 thousand people left the rebel enclave on the outskirts of Damascus, besieged by the government army. At least 25 trucks loaded with aid for Douma.

11/01/2017 18:31:00 KAZAKHSTAN – SYRIA
As Astana gets ready for Syria peace conference, opposition remains divided

Kazakhstan’s role will be limited to hosting the meeting. This means that Russia, Iran and Turkey will play the main role in solving the regional crisis. Erdogan reiterates partnership with Moscow. Only Syrian opposition groups sponsored by Ankara will be at the meeting. Other groups have been blocked.

29/12/2016 17:58:00 SYRIA – TURKEY – RUSSIA
Putin announces a cease-fire agreement between Damascus and the rebels

The Russian President confirms that the Syrian regime and the armed opposition have reached an agreement. Three documents were signed with a truce taking effect at midnight tonight over the “entire territory." The Islamic State and other Jihadi groups are excluded. Moscow and Ankara reiterate peace talks in Astana, but Assad’s future remains the Gordian knot.

06/09/2016 18:13:00 SYRIA
As government forces advance towards Aleppo, the city gets ready for the final battle

Syrian Regular forces, with the help of allies, continue to advance south of the city. Tunnels used by Islamic extremist groups to bring men and weapons have been neutralised. After ceasefire talks fail, fighting continues. Washington uses Kurds and Turks to protect its interests, waiting for the next president, whilst the Russians want to maximise their military successes.

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