Russia, Iran, Turkey agree to support Syria ceasefire, Geneva talks

Astana, Jan 24 (IANS) Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday announced they will establish a trilateral mechanism to support the ceasefire in Syria and urged the Syrian opposition to take part in Geneva peace talks.

“The delegations of Iran, Russia and Turkey support the start of negotiations between the government of Syria and armed opposition in Astana, January 23-24, 2017,” said a statement issued at the end of talks here and read out by Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed that the Syrian crisis can be only resolved through a political process and that there can be no military solution.

The sides also agreed to a joint fight against militants from the Islamic State, which alongside Al Nusra front has not been included in the negotiations. The trio also suggested separating the terrorists from Syrian armed opposition groups. They also welcomed the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the Syrian crisis, which was adopted in December 2015.

The countries said that they support the willingness of the armed opposition groups to take part in the next round of talks, which are scheduled for February 8 in Geneva.

Syria has seen almost six years of a bloody civil war that has claimed over 250,000 civilian lives. Syrian pro-democracy protests in March 2011 escalated into the civil war as rebel groups were formed to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict has now acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country’s Sunni majority against Shias, and drawn in regional and world powers, including Russia, the US, Turkey.