Syria: ISIS, al-Nusra excluded from the ceasefire agreement

Syria: ISIS, al-Nusra excluded from the ceasefire agreement

Syrian opposition groups and the government had signed a number of documents including a ceasefire deal starting at midnight on Thursday, but Assad regime said it will not cover the “terrorist organizations ISIS and al-Nusra front.”

Many ceasefire agreements accompanied by peace talks meetings were organized to help find a solution to the crisis, but Assad regime and Iranian forces breached every ceasefire and hindered every peace talks meeting without any pressure moves or real steps from the western powers.

The recent months especially witnessed numerous meetings between the US and Russian foreign ministers to find a solution to the Syria crisis, end the violence and start new peace talks but they led to nothing.

in the end, Russia said it has a new plan for Syria peace talks which can be achieved with powers that have a real effect on the Syrian ground.

Russia and Iran both back Assad, but Turkey, a NATO member, has long made clear it would prefer him to step down. Ankara has however sought to fix its relation with Russia in recent months after the coup attempt as the west abandoned its relations with Turkey.

The three countries said they were ready to help broker a Syria peace deal after the three countries held talks in Moscow on Tuesday and adopted a new declaration.

This new relation included Turkey’s moderation of its rhetoric on Assad, changing the goal of its military operation in Syria, decreasing its support for the armed Syrian opposition, and playing a major role in bringing the Syrian opposition to one table with Assad through the newly made agreement as the new agreement shows.

Moscow has said they would take place in Kazakhstan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that an agreement has been reached on a countrywide ceasefire for Syria, with Russia and Turkey to act as guarantors.

“The agreements reached are, no doubt, very fragile and they demand special attention and follow-up in order to keep them and develop them. Nevertheless, this is a notable result of our joint work, efforts by the defence and foreign ministries, our partners in the regions,” Putin said.

“Now we need to do everything for these agreements to work, so that negotiators would come to Astana and would begin to work on real peace process. I call on the Syrian government, armed opposition, all countries involved to support these agreements.”

Russia’s defence ministry said the insurgent groups which signed the agreement were: Failaq al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Suqor al-Sham, Jaish al-Muhajidin, Jaish Idlib and al-Jabha al-Shamia.

Nusra and ISIS excluded

Putin’s announcement followed a statement carried by the Assad regime that said the ceasefire came after the “successes achieved by the armed forces”, an apparent reference to the capture of rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo this month.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the agreement excluded the Islamic State group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and “groups linked to them”, without specifying who these groups are.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said the truce would include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria.

However, this announcement will open the door to many complications that threaten to undermine the deal.

Excluding Jabhat Fateh al-Sham could “create some problems” and “further undermine the ceasefire’s chances of holding,” an analyst said.

The group, he said, “has a presence in areas where moderate rebel groups are operating – around Aleppo, Idlib and on the outskirts of Damascus”.

“If the Russians and the Syrian government decide to target the positions of Nusra [Jabhat Fateh al-Sham], the potential for casualties among other groups is going to be high”.

Rebels: Al-Nusra is included

Syrian rebel officials said on Thursday that the ceasefire deal included Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

A spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr rebel faction present at the ceasefire talks told Reuters that only Islamic State was excluded. The deal is to be monitored by Russia and Turkey and includes establishing humanitarian corridors, he said.

Zakaria Malahifji, head of the political office of rebel group Fastaqim, also said the truce only excludes areas under the control of Islamic State.

The Jaish al-Nasr spokesman said the other side had wanted to exclude the ex-Nusra Front, and to exclude the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta from the agreement. But he said the rebel groups at the meeting refused.

Fastaqim’s Malahifji said: “Rebel groups said it is not about covering for (the ex-Nusra Front), but because we can’t separate them out, because the territory is overlapping.”

Mamoun al-Haj-Mousa, a member of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s political council and spokesman for the Suqur al-Sham rebel group, told al-Arabiya al-Hadath television channel that rebels had asked that no group be excluded.

“We saw recently how Aleppo was annihilated because of 200 fighters from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. This is a fundamental condition for us that no group is excluded be it Fatah al-Sham or not,” he said.

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.