Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Syrian government and rebel fighters reached a cease-fire deal to allow peace talks over the nearly 6-year-old conflict to begin, state media reported Thursday.
A nationwide cease-fire will start at midnight, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. Russia’s TASS news agency also reported the news. Putin said Russia and Turkey will guarantee the truce, although he acknowledged the deal was “fragile.”
If the cease-fire holds, peace talks will take place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. They would not include the United States and would be separate to United Nations-brokered negotiations. Putin did not specify which rebel groups would participate in the truce set to begin later Thursday, but Russia’s defense ministry said it would include 62,000 opposition fighters from across Syria.
The Syrian army said the truce does not include al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch and the Islamic State group.
Putin said the deal came out of meetings held in Moscow with foreign ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran. “The agreements reached are very fragile, they demand special attention and patience, a professional approach to these issues and a constant contact with our partners,” he said.
A member of one of Syria’s main opposition groups said the truce includes a halt to airstrikes and shelling. Ahmad Ramadan of the Syrian National Coalition told The Associated Press rebel factions would abide by the truce but retaliate to violations by the government and its partners.