Syria ceasefire deal reached between regime and rebels, Russia says


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ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a ceasefire between the Syrian government and the opposition, Russian state media TASS reports.

“Reports have just arrived that several hours ago there was a development that we all have looked and worked for for so long,” Putin said.

“Three documents have been signed. A ceasefire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition is one. A package of measures to control the ceasefire is another. And a declaration of readiness to enter into peace talks on a settlement in Syria is the third.”

Putin was speaking at a meeting with Russian foreign and defense ministers.

Earlier the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Russia and Turkey would be “guarantors to the agreement that will be signed with the opposition.”

A successful nationwide ceasefire hinges on many fighting factions laying down arms — groups from Iraq, Iran and Lebanon are also fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Turkey and Russia worked together on several ceasefire agreements in the city of Aleppo this month. Most crumbled, but a final one held and allowed the evacuations of tens of thousands of rebels and civilians from the city’s east, which had been under the control of rebel groups for more than four years.

The Syrian regime then gained full control of Aleppo, in a major turning point that has limited the opposition’s military and political options.

Turkey and Russia have differed, however, in their stance on Assad — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Turkish forces entered Syria to help end Assad’s rule. Russia is Assad’s most powerful ally and has propped up his regime since September 2015 with airstrikes.

US sidelined

Turkey and Russia appear to be sidelining the United States, which has led an international coalition to fight ISIS in Syria and has vehemently opposed any attempt to keep Assad in power.

Russia has long accused the US of arming what it sees as terrorist organizations, while Turkey has made similar claims in recent days.

Meanwhile, the US mission in Syria said Thursday that ISIS gang leader Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti had been killed in a coalition airstrike on Monday.

He was involved in the use of suicide vehicles, improvised explosive devices and chemical weapons against the Syrian Democratic Forces, the mission said in a statement.

He was a member of the militant group’s war committee and was involved in ISIS’ recapture of Palmyra, an ancient city, the statement said.

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