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Russia, Iran, Turkey agree ‘mechanism’ to ensure Syria truce

Russia, Iran and Turkey, the sponsors of peace talks between Syrian rebels and Damascus, agreed Tuesday to establish a joint “mechanism” to monitor the frail truce in the war-torn country.

The sides will “establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, prevent any provocations and determine all modalities of the ceasefire,” according to a final statement read by Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov following the talks in Astana.

Rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran also support the presence of the armed opposition at political negotiations under UN auspices set to take place next month in Geneva, the statement said.

The rebel delegation said earlier that they would agree to have Russia serve as a guarantor of the current ceasefire but not Iran, another backer of President Bashar al-Assad.

A ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey has been in place since late December but both rebels and Damascus have complained of repeated violations.

The rebels backed out Monday of what could have been their first face-to-face talks with the Syrian regime since the conflict erupted in 2011.

They said they would not engage in direct negotiations with the regime because of its continued bombardment and attacks on a flashpoint outside the Syrian capital Damascus.

The latest diplomatic push to end bloodshed in Syria comes one month after regime forces, aided by allies Russia and Iran, retook full control of Aleppo, dealing the rebels a heavy blow.

More than 310,000 people have been killed and more than half of the country’s population displaced since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011 with protests against Assad’s rule. – AFP

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