02/06/2017, 09.57
KAZAKHSTAN - SYRIA
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Astana, the new round of talks on ceasefire in Syria

Today's meeting was attended by Russian, Iranian and Turkish delegates, together with representatives of the United Nations. Jordanian diplomats present for the first time. The talks focused on the "control principle" of the truce in force since the end of December. The Syrian Democratic Forces prepare new phase in Raqqa offensive, jihadi stronghold in Syria.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Russian, Iranian and Turkish government experts, together with representatives of the United Nations, gathered this morning in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, to discuss a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire in Syria.

Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the summit today fits into the groove of the meetings in late January, the "first direct peace talks" between government and opposition.

During the talks between government representatives and opposition leaders in Astana showed the importance of the principle of monitoring the truce, due to persistent violence on the ground which threatens to plunge the country back in total war every day.

The negotiations taking place - with the participation for the first time of delegates from Jordan - should prepare the ground for peace negotiations under the UN auspices, to be held February 20 in Geneva (Switzerland).

If from a theoretical point of view the ceasefire reached in late December with the mediation of Moscow and Ankara is still in force, the fighting on the ground - and in particular in some areas - continues unabated, causing casualties and damage.

The clashes are mainly concentrated in the region of Damascus and the west of Aleppo, where the militia fighters who fled the northern metropolis of the country following the Russian-Syrian military victory found refuge.

For the first time, representatives of the government and opposition sat at the same table in Astana, to discuss possible solutions to ensure a lasting truce in the Arab country. At the end of two days of talks, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran agreed to guarantee the continuation of the truce in Syria and block any violations.

In a joint statement issued by representatives of the three countries - but not the parties concerned - the  commitment of each power to "restrain" their faction and prevent further violence is stated.

Jihadist groups such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) are excluded from the ceasefire.

Meanwhile in Raqqa, an IS stronghold in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced the beginning of a "new phase" for the conquest of the city, for years in the hands of the so-called Caliphate. The goal, say the leaders of the alliance, is to surround the area and regain control after having annihilated the jihadist militias.

The operation of the Arab-Kurdish forces should garner the growing support of the international coalition (US-led), which would provide air cover necessary for the progression of the forces on the ground. The coalition support is also ensured through the presence on the ground of "special forces unit."

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