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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Turkey and Russia broker ceasefire in all of Syria (Obama not included in talks)

 Turkey and Russia have agreed to a ceasefire plan for all of Syria that should come into force at midnight, Turkish state media said Wednesday, as Ankara and Moscow tighten cooperation to find an end to the civil war.

The plan aims to expand a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo, brokered by Turkey and Russia earlier this month to allow the evacuation of civilians, to the whole country, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

But in a speech in Ankara after the report was published, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made no reference to the plan, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not answer on an issue "about which I don't have enough information."

A Syrian rebel source, who asked not to be named, told AFP in Beirut that details still had to be submitted to the rebel groups and said there was no agreement as yet. "Like previous ceasefire plans brokered by the United States and Russia, it excludes "terror" groups," the agency said.

If successful, the plan will form the basis of upcoming political negotiations between the Damascus regime and opposition overseen by Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital Astana, it added.

It was not immediately clear how and where the plan had been agreed but there have been talks in recent weeks between Turkey, Russia and Syrian opposition representatives in Ankara.The Qatar-based channel Al-Jazeera said a new meeting is planned on Thursday in Ankara, this time between military representatives of Syrian rebels and Russia.