Assad Tells Putin His Government Will Help with Syria Ceasefire

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) on Wednesday that his government was ready to implement a ceasefire in Syria REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

MOSCOW, Feb 24 – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that his government was ready to assist in implementing a ceasefire in Syria, the Kremlin and the Syrian presidency said.

The United States and Russia announced plans on Monday for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, excluding Daesh and Nusra Front militants, that would take effect starting on Saturday.

Putin said at the time that the ceasefire agreements between Moscow and Washington were a real step towards halting the bloodshed and can be an example of action against terrorism.

Putin and Assad, who held a telephone conversation, stressed the importance of a continued “uncompromising” fight against Daesh, the Nusra Front and other militant groups “which are included in the respective list of the United Nations Security Council”, the Kremlin said. It gave no further detail.

The Syrian presidency made no mention of any UN Security Council list.

The Syrian opposition has yet to decide whether it will commit to a U.S.-Russian plan to stop fighting in Syria on Saturday, chief opposition negotiator Mohamad Alloush told Orient News on Wednesday.

Alloush said the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which he is a member of, would give the final answer.

“We have until Friday,” said Alloush, who heads the political office of the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

The Saudi-backed HNC, which groups political and armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said on Monday in a statement it had “given its acceptance of international efforts for a cessation of hostilities”.

But it said acceptance of a truce was conditional on fulfilment of previous demands including an end to blockades, free access for humanitarian aid, a release of detainees, and a halt to aerial and artillery bombardments against civilians.

One opposition concern is that the agreement allows for continued attacks on the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front – whose fighters are widely spread out in opposition-held areas – and other groups designated as terrorists by the U.N. Security Council.

An HNC spokesman said on Tuesday the U.S-Russian plan for a “cessation of hostilities” included “obscure terms” and was heavily influenced by Russia, which is mounting air strikes in support of Assad.

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  1. David Dzidzikashvili

    Putin is smart and cunning and every move he makes is very thoroughly calculated to further his own goals and agenda. It’s no secret that Putin himself is pursuing an aggressive revisionist policy designed to undermine the post WW2 and post–Cold War orders…

    His possible disengagement from Syria can be associated with the following three scenarios: A. Putin miscalculated and saw the raise of Iran and all the victories going to Iran in the region, who is merely borrowing the Russian Air force. Therefore, once Putin realized there were no bigger prizes for him other than the airbase in Latakia, he decided to pull out and let Iran pursue the remainder of strategic war goals. Also, what Putin achieved at a minimum strengthened Assad regime, so he has a bigger negotiating power during the peace talks.

    B. Domestic economic pressures – bombing runs and maintaining effective military power needs serious financial resources. Once Putin had achieved his minimum – strengthened Assad regime, he claimed the credit at home and made another strategic move to pull the bigger force, while maintaining the minimum presence.

    C. This might be just another trick & maneuver in Putin’s handbook and this might not mean any sort of withdrawal on the short-term or long-term, since the Russian air force is still continuing bombing the rebels in Syria after the withdrawal announcement. What did Putin want to accomplish? Time will show us…

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