Turkey, Russia and Iran agree approach on Syria ceasefire

The three countries agreed at Syria peace talks in Astana on a joint monitoring mechanism to bolster a fragile ceasefire. Turkey, Russia and Iran are major allies of regime and opposition groups in Syria.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

Foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov (C) of Russia, Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) of Turkey and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, leave after a news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 20, 2016.

Turkey, Russia and Iran on Tuesday reached agreement on forming a three-party mechanism to monitor ceasefire violations in Syria,  the three nations said in a joint statement.

The countries will jointly monitor the ceasefire through the mechanism and ensure its implementation. They also said they supported the willingness of the armed opposition groups to participate in the next round of negotiations to be held in Geneva on February 8.

The three countries also affirmed their commitment to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254, which lays out a road map for peace in Syria and states that "The Syrian people will decide the future of Syria."

The Syrian regime’s chief negotiator Bashar Ja'afari views the the Astana talks as a "success", expressing support for a joint statement by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

"Finally we have a consensual paper agreed upon by everybody," he told reporters, referring to the joint statement.

Syrian rebels, on the other hand, are unhappy with a communique. A delegate, cited by Reuters, said the communique should have included the influence by Iranian-backed militias fighting for the regime.

The agreement came on day two of Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana that bring together the Syrian regime, opposition groups and each side's allies in a bid to end a six-year conflict.

No plans were scheduled for face-to-face negotiations between the regime and its opposition. But Russia's Foreign Ministry said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the Astana talks on Tuesday and "underlined the importance of establishing direct contact between the Syrian government and representatives of the opposition."

Since the ceasefire went into effect on December 30, both sides blame the other for repeated violations.

"We're working for a declaration that can reassure the actual cessation of hostilities to become more solid,"  Staffan de Mistura told reporters. "This is not a paper, but a cessation of hostilities and saving lives. We're not far from a final declaration."

The opposition delegation at Astana meanwhile has said it will not sign a communique at the Astana talks. They said their focus at the talks was on bolstering the ceasefire.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah is in Astana and has more.

Prospects for the ceasefire?

The opposition delegation says it is not seeking a political solution to the conflict and has vowed to continue fighting if the Astana talks fail to bolster the ceasefire.

Clashes are continuing on the ground in Syria, even as the talks go ahead, as not all parties to the conflict are party to the talks.

The joint announcement said Turkey, Russia and Iran would continue to fight against Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, and separate these groups from other armed opposition groups.

TRTWorld and agencies