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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trump signed two executive order to keep "terrorists" out of the US. Giving priority to Christian refugees, he suspends admissions for Syrians. For 90 days, Iraqis, Iranians, Somalis, Libyans, Sudanese and Yemenis are barred from the US. Iran’s president responds by rejecting walls. Meanwhile, talks about Syria’s future continue. On the recent Astana talks, we propose the reflection of an expert. Courtesy of the Jamestown Foundation.