Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a armistice between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government starting at midnight on Thursday. He also added that negotiating parties are ready to move to restarting peace talks. Turkey said it and Russia would guarantee the ceasefire.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, a loose alliance of rebel groups, said it would abide by the ceasefire, due to come into force at midnight, and take part in future talks.
Moscow, Iran and Turkey over the last few months have offered their collaborative mediation to broker a deal for settling the nearly six-year-old Syrian war. On the other hand, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that the Russian embassy in Damascus was hit by a mortar shell on Thursday, yet with no casualties.
The Syria pro-regime forces announced a nationwide halt to fighting but said ISIS and all groups linked to them would be excluded from the deal. It did not say which unnamed groups would be excluded.
It is the third nationwide ceasefire agreed in Syria this year. The previous two, negotiated by Washington and Moscow, collapsed within weeks as warring sides accused each other of violations. The current deal does not involve the United States or United Nations.
One rebel commander expressed optimism that this deal would hold: “This time I have confidence in its seriousness. There is new international input,” he said, without elaborating.
He also said Russia had agreed to reduce its military deployment in Syria, where its support has turned the tide in favor of regime head Bashar al-Assad in a war that has killed more than 300,000 and forced more than 11 million to flee their homes.
Talks on the latest truce picked up momentum after Russia, Iran and Turkey last week said they were ready to back a peace deal and adopted a declaration setting out principles for an agreement.
Putin said opposition groups and the Syrian regime had signed a number of documents, including the ceasefire, measures to monitor the truce, and a statement on readiness to start peace talks.
“The agreements reached are, of course, fragile, need a special attention and involvement… But after all, this is a notable result of our joint work, efforts by the defense and foreign ministries, our partners in the regions,” Putin said.