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Syria says Russia's guarantees behind reaching Syria ceasefire

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

12-30-2016 06:57 BJT

DAMASCUS, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Thursday that Russia's strong guarantees to the Syrian government were behind the government acceptance of the imminent cease-fire in Syria.

In an interview with the state TV, just hours ahead of the commencement of the cease-fire, al-Moallem said the recently-reached nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria is a real chance for ending the Syrian war and bringing an end to the bloodletting in the war-torn country.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian army declared that a nationwide cessation of hostilities will go into effect as of midnight Friday.

The cease-fire will exclude the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) group, both designated as terrorist groups by the United Nations, it added.

The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Coalition, a political coalition of Syrian opposition groups, have announced their acceptance to the cease-fire.

The Syrian army's declaration of cease-fire reflects an agreement reached Wednesday between Russia and Turkey for a nationwide cease-fire in Syria, with both countries acting as guarantors to rein in their respective allies in the country.

The cease-fire comes after the Syrian army and its allied fighters retook the city of Aleppo in northern Syria, after dealing a big blow to the rebels, said al-Moallem.

He noted that the new cease-fire is distinct from the previous failing ones due to the "strong Russian guarantees," saying that Russia is a partner in fighting terrorism, and Russia has guaranteed that "every breach will be confronted."

The head of the Syrian diplomacy said that the new cease-fire was declared by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

Al-Moallem said there were communications on several levels between Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"This agreement comes after Aleppo victory, so it reflects the trust of the Syrian state, and the army in the victory," he said, adding that "the liberation of Aleppo is not like before so we need to invest in that victory, and the first investment is in the cessation of hostilities."

"There will also be monitoring mechanism to the cease-fire and no breach would be allowed," he said.

Regarding the Turkish role, as one of the guarantor of the cease-fire, al-Moallem made it clear that his government doesn't trust Ankara, saying that there is no document "that we have signed on that mentions Turkey (role in the cease-fire)."

"We told our Russian and Iranian partners that we don't trust the Turkish side," he said.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister said that the cease-fire was not forced on the Syrian government.

"Nothing was forced on us. There was an understanding on which the agreement was made," he said.

He said that by the cease-fire, the Syrian state has offered a chance in response to the aspiration of the Syrian people, adding that "this chance is real, so whoever needs the interest of the Syrian people must seize this opportunity and embark on the political process."

He also mentioned that the topic of the presidency is an internal Syrian affair, not accepting it to be discussed at any conference or meeting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the cease-fire will be followed by peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Kazakhstan, without specifying a date.

Al-Moallem said his country will take part in the Kazakhstan talks, adding that all topics can be negotiated except the presidency of Assad.

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