Total Syria ceasefire begins Thursday night

Turkey will serve as guarantor of rebel compliance, while Russia would guarantee adherence by the government

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Mamoun al-Haj-Mousa, a member of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s political council and spokesman for the Suqur al-Sham rebel group said that rebels had asked that no group be excluded.

“We saw recently how Aleppo was annihilated because of 200 fighters from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. This is a fundamental condition for us that no group is excluded be it Fatah al-Sham or not,” he said.

The ceasefire deal was first announced by Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after Moscow, Iran and Turkey said they were ready to broker a peace deal in the nearly six-year-old Syrian war.

Russia’s defense ministry said the insurgent groups which signed the agreement were: Failaq al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Thuwwar al-Sham, Jaish al-Muhajidin, Jaish Idlib and al-Jabha al-Shamia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said an agreement has been reached on a Syria ceasefire, with Russia and Turkey to act as guarantors.

Putin reportedly discussed topics including the situation in Syria during phone calls with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Kremlin confirmed.

Turkey had earlier said that Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, which has sent thousands of fighters to support President Bashar Assad, should withdraw from Syria as a condition.

Turkey will serve as guarantor of rebel compliance, while Russia would guarantee adherence by the government.

UN envoy welcomes Syria ceasefire deal as prelude to peace talks

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura welcomed the announcement of a Syria ceasefire deal on Thursday and said he hoped it would save civilian lives, enable the delivery of aid and lead to productive peace talks in Astana.

“These developments should (also) contribute to inclusive and productive intra-Syrian negotiations to be convened under UN auspices on 8 February 2017,” de Mistura’s spokeswoman said in a statement.

Syrian foreign minister sees ‘real chance’ for political settlement

Syria’s foreign minister said on Thursday there was a “real chance” to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict, after Damascus’s ally Russia announced a ceasefire deal that was to take effect at midnight.

Walid al-Moualem also said Syria would attend planned peace talks in Kazakhstan “with an open mind”.

“Everything is open for discussion, with the exception of national sovereignty, and the people’s right to choose its leadership,” he said in a live interview on state television.

Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the government starting at midnight (2200 GMT on Thursday), and said the parties were also prepared to start peace talks.

No date has been announced for the talks in Astana, the Kazakh capital.

Syrian Kurdish groups, allies approve blueprint for federal system

Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies said on Thursday they approved a blueprint for a system of federal government in northern Syria.

“The social contract draft was ratified ... and the executive committee will prepare for elections” first to regional administrations and later to a central body, an official said, without giving a date for the votes.