Syrian opposition accepts ceasefire for two weeks
SYRIA’S main opposition bloc has said it will support a temporary two-week truce to test the seriousness of the other side’s commitment to a United States (U.S.)-Russian plan to end fighting.
Earlier this week, the U.S. and Russia agreed on a “cessation of hostilities” between the Syrian government and groups fighting it in a deal that excludes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front.
The agreement called on all sides to sign up to the deal by midday today and to stop fighting by midnight.
“The High Negotiations Committee believes a provisional truce for two weeks would provide a chance to determine the commitment of the other side” to the ceasefire, the opposition bloc said in a statement on Wednesday.
The opposition statement came after Syria’s president assured Russia of his readiness to respect the ceasefire, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
“A phone call took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
“In particular, (Assad) confirmed the readiness of the Syrian government to facilitate the establishment of a ceasefire.”
Assad described the ceasefire as an “important step towards a political resolution” for Syria’s civil war, according to the Kremlin statement.
However, Putin and Assad emphasised the need to continue an “uncompromised fight” against ISIL, the al-Nusra Front and other groups “which are included in the respective list of the United Nations Security Council”, the Kremlin added.
Putin also discussed the ceasefire with the leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
“Primary attention was focused on the Syrian issues, in particular the discussion of initiatives and proposals laid out in the Joint Statement of Russia and the United States on the cessation of hostilities in Syria,” the Kremlin said in reference to Putin’s call with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, “welcomed the achieved agreements and expressed readiness for mutual work with Russia to realise them,” the Kremlin said.
Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of the Syrian opposition and rebel factions, whereas Russia supports Assad, a long-time ally.