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Syria conflict: Assad and rebels accept ceasefire

Dec 30, 2016, 1:05 AM EST
A fighter from opposition groups
(Source: Kurdishstruggle/flickr)

A ceasefire deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, came into force across Syria on Thursday after the country’s government and rebel groups agreed to the latest truce initiative that aims to end nearly six years of bloodshed. Isolated incidents of gunfire and clashes between the warring sides were reported along the provincial boundary between Idlib and Hama during the first two hours of the truce while most other places remained calm.

The peace agreement excludes the radical groups such as Islamic State, fighters affiliated to al Qaeda's former branch the Nusra Front, or any factions linked to those jihadist groups, reports Al Jazeera.  Peace talks are scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan within a month, if the deal survives through the period.

Whereas recent victory in Aleppo reflected Russia’s military edge in Syria, the latest truce agreement testifies its growing diplomatic momentum, writes the BBC. The deal marks a transitional moment in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey sending out a message that its strategic interests take precedence.