Cease-fire to begin across Syria starting at midnight, Syrian army says and also as PUTIN announced today on television
A cease-fire will take effect across much of Syria from midnight Thursday, the Syrian army announced, in a deal that opposition officials hailed as a rare chance to tamp down violence in the country’s bloody war.
In a statement posted to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the military declared a “comprehensive” cessation of hostilities following “victories and advances” by Syria’s armed forces.
But it said the deal excluded “terrorist organizations” including the Islamic State and the country’s al-Qaeda affiliate, now an influential component of what remains of Syria’s armed opposition. The caveat suggested that the fighting could continue in the northwestern province of Idlib, now the rebels’ final bastion.
Their most important stronghold, east Aleppo, fell earlier this month to a coalition of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That victory is likely to be seen as a milestone in Syria’s five-and-a-half-year war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of Assad’s most important backers, announced earlier Thursday that agreements on a cease-fire have been reached with the Syrian government, Iran and Turkey.
Notably absent from the peace process was the United States.
As President Obama prepares to leave office next month, Washington’s influence in Syria is much diminished. Moscow and Ankara now
are taking the lead on initiatives to end a war that has killed almost half a million people, spurred the largest refugee crisis since World War II and spawned a global terrorist threat in the form of the Islamic State.