Russia in ceasefire talks with Syria armed groups
Iran Press TV
Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:19PM
Russia has begun negotiations with militant groups operating in Syria on implementing a planned ceasefire in five Syrian provinces, the defense ministry says.
The ministry said in a Wednesday statement that it has opened a coordination center in Syria that is 'already carrying out work with representatives of the groups in various settlements in the provinces of Hama, Homs, Latakia, Damascus and Dara'a.'
According to the statement, agreement has been reached on some local ceasefires and some 'practical results' have already been secured in the north of Latakia Province as military action has been halted in several settlements there.
The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said establishing ceasefire is not simple as it needs "not only phone talks but also trips to sites to implement the ceasefire agreements and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people."
The announcement of negotiations came a day after Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the center is located in Hmeymim airbase, adding that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants are not among the groups taking part in the negotiations.
The United States and Russia announced on February 22 that they had reached a deal for a ceasefire in Syria which would begin on February 27. The Syrian government said the following day that it accepts the terms of the ceasefire deal on the basis that military efforts against Daesh and al-Nusra continue.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin discussed the deal with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during a phone call and that the Syrian president has said his government is ready to pave the way for the establishment of a ceasefire in the country.
The two presidents also highlighted the importance of continuing what they described as 'an uncompromising fight' against Daesh, al-Nusra and 'other terrorist groups' in Syria.
UN announces first air drop of aid
The United Nations on Wednesday announced its first humanitarian airdrop to help those civilians living in areas of Syria besieged by Daesh.
According to UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien, a plane belonging to the World Food Program (WFP) dropped the first cargo of 21 tonnes of items into the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr, adding that the pallets have reportedly "landed in the target area as planned."
O'Brien said some 110,000 residents in the besieged areas have received aid and that a further 230,000 people are set to benefit from deliveries including through air drops.
'We are still waiting for approval for an additional 170,000 people. We expect those approvals to happen immediately,' he said.
Earlier this month, more than 100 trucks carrying food and other basic goods delivered aid to 80,000 people in five besieged areas while two more convoys were sent to two besieged towns on Tuesday.
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