Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a briefing on Syria from Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow yesterday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a briefing on Syria from Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow yesterday. Mikhail Klimentyev

Progress as peace hits Syria

REBEL groups representing more than 62,000 fighters have signed a ceasefire agreement with Syria's government and it has kicked in.

But a spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the largest rebel groups in the talks, wrote on Twitter that his group had reservations about the agreement and had not signed it. As a result, it is not clear whether that group will comply.

Negotiations had been going on for two months with Russia, Iran and Turkey to secure the truce.

As a result of the deal, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would reduce its forces in Syria while maintaining its support for the Syrian Government.

Syria's opposition National Coalition backed the nationwide ceasefire. The agreement appeared shaky from the start, however, with the parties already disagreeing on issues that have sunk past initiatives, such as the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As with most ceasefires, violations were reported within hours, but it appeared to be largely holding.

It could be the turning point in a six-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions and defied repeated efforts to end it.

As part of the deal, before the end of January the parties will meet for talks in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.



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