Turkey, Russia agree on Syria ceasefire draft

Istanbul, Dec 28 (IANS) Turkey and Russia on Wednesday agreed on a draft for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, the media reported.

Ankara and Moscow would try to bring the ceasefire in effect from midnight. Terror groups would be excluded from the agreement, CNN reported.

If the ceasefire succeeds, the regime and the opposition parties will start political negotiations led by Turkey and Russia in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It was not immediately clear if any of the Syrian rebel groups have agreed to the ceasefire plan.

The ceasefire draft comes six days after Syrian regime forces regained control of the key city of Aleppo — a major turning point in the country’s civil war that has raged for nearly six years and has killed an estimated 400,000 people.

Tens of thousands of civilians and rebels were evacuated from the city’s east under several deals brokered by Turkey and Russia.

Rebels had held eastern Aleppo for more than four years, and losing the territory has made military and political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad less likely, analysts have said.

After the regime seized Aleppo, Russian President Vladimir Putin had said that a nationwide ceasefire was the next step in resolving the war.

Russia has been the closest and most powerful ally of Assad. It has carried out airstrikes against rebel groups opposed to the leader’s regime since September last year.