Syria, opposition in talks according to Russian minister
Dec 31 2016 by Ken Ortega
Assad's victory in Aleppo spelled disaster for those who remained in the city, like activist Lina al-Shami, who dispatched what she said may be her last message at the time.
Mr. Putin said that Mr. Assad's government and the opposition would hold peace talks in Kazakhstan, but he did not announce a date.
The Kremlin statement came after Moscow, Iran and Turkey said that they were ready to negotiate a peace deal in the almost six-year-old Syrian war.
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem had said that fighters from more than 80 countries have joined insurgent groups trying to remove Assad from power while the Syrian government is backed by fighters from countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Russian Federation.
While the truce held in most parts of the war-torn country, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes between Assad troops and rebels in the central province of Hama and near the capital, Damascus, in the first few hours following the ceasefire, which came into force at midnight 30 December (10pm GMT on 29 December).
The largest of the seven rebel groups named is Ahrar al-Sham, which Russian Federation says has more than 80 detachments and 16,000 people.
Russian Federation urged the United Nations Security Council to quickly adopt a resolution endorsing its cease-fire agreement in Syria and throwing support behind a Moscow-led roadmap to peace.
The forces present there include former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, which Syria's government says is excluded from the ceasefire.
What is included in the truce? It covers the entire country.
A ceasefire aimed at ending almost six years of war in Syria has been breached already after clashes broke out at midnight.
Who will enforce the ceasefire?
As the New York Times reported, Putin announced that seven rebel groups had signed three separate agreements with Assad: one ceasing hostilities, another outlining the implementation of the ceasefire, and a third statement of readiness to start peace talks.
A number of rebel groups have signed the agreement, Russia's Defence Ministry said, while several others have acknowledged the deal.
Short answer: It's anyone's guess, but past attempts at a ceasefire have failed, and Putin himself acknowledged that conditions are "fragile".
And does this mean the Syrian civil war is finally at an end?
Talks on a ceasefire picked up momentum after last week, when Russia, Iran and Turkey said that they were ready to back a deal and declared to set out principles that everyone would obey.
In his New Year message, Putin "noted with satisfaction that following a hard period in relations between Russian Federation and Turkey, the sides were able to begin the process of gradual normalization and restoration of all cooperation in the political, economic, humanitarian, scientific, technical and other areas".
The agreement that is reached will be submitted to the UN Security Council later Thursday, the Russian foreign minister said.