02/23/2016, 10.08
SYRIA
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US-Russian agreement on ceasefire in Syria effective as of February 27

The truce does not cover the fight against the Islamic State or extremist groups such as al Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda in Syria). The main opposition group confirms its adherence - conditioned – to the cessation of hostilities. But analysts concerned about its application on the ground. The government announces the date (13 April) of the next parliamentary elections.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United States and Russia have announced in a joint statement that the "cessation of hostilities" in Syria will come into force from next February 27. In the joint statement, the two world powers - both active players in the Syrian arena - make clear that the truce does not cover the all-out struggle against the Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups, including militias of al Nusra Front linked to al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government announced the date of the next parliamentary elections - the last took place in 2012 - scheduled for April 13.

On 12 February, world powers signed an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria within a week, but the deadline passed without any results and there is still a certain skepticism about the plan. Analysts and experts on Syrian affairs are highly doubtful given the inefficiency on the ground of other agreements signed to date.

Meanwhile, in many parts of the country the violence continues, with more than 140 deaths in a series of attacks in Damascus and Homs just last weekend, claimed by jihadists of the Islamic State.

The war in Syria flared up in March 2011 after a popular protest motion against President Bashar al-Assad was transformed into a widespread conflict with extremist Islamic tendencies and jihadist movements.  Thus far it has caused over 260 thousand deaths.

It has also given rise to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history, forcing 4.6 million Syrians to seek shelter abroad, especially in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Hundreds of thousands have tried to reach Europe, crossing the Mediterranean at the cost of their lives.

 In an official statement, the White House reported that President Barack Obama held a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the arrangements for the application of the cessation of hostilities. After the phone call a joint statement was published by the two governments.

The truce applies to the warring parties that have shown "their commitment" to accept "the terms". It will not include IS, the Nusra Front and "other terrorist organizations listed by the United Nations." The air raids in Syria, carried out by Russia and the US-led coalition against these groups will "continue".

At the same time, the armed organizations and groups of the rebel opposition who wish to adhere to the cessation of hostilities must report by 26 back by February. Moscow and the Syrian air force said they were willing to stop attacks against opposition groups. Meanwhile Russia and the United States will work in common agreement to "define the territories" of movements that adhere to the truce. A special communications hotline will be set up and a working group called to monitor violations of the cease-fire.

The main opposition movement in Syria - the High Negotiations Committee  (Hnc), backed by the Saudis - have declared their adherence to the truce, but conditioned to the end of all sieges, attacks against civilians, the release of prisoners and the delivery of aid.

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