Turkey and Russia are stepping up diplomacy to hammer out the details of Astana peace talks, scheduled to start in late January, in a fresh bid to end the six-year war in Syria.

Foreign ministers, Sergei 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.
Foreign ministers, Sergei 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.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday discussed Syria and the planned peace conference, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Their phone conversation comes ahead of talks slated to begin on January 23 in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana. The meeting will bring together Syrian regime representatives and the opposition and their allies in a fresh bid to end the six-year war in Syria.

"The sides emphasized the importance of the strict adherence to the cessation of hostilities and of the constructive approach to the preparation of intra-Syrian talks in Astana, while stressing the need to continue fight against terrorist groups in Syria," the ministry said.

A Russian delegation arrived in Turkey on Monday to discuss the details of the planned Astana meeting, according to Turkish officials.

The Astana talks would include Turkey, the Syrian opposition, and the Syrian regime and its allies, Iran and Russia.

The US on Tuesday said that the PYD should be party to the Astana talks. Turkey, however, considers its armed wing, the YPG, to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, which Turkey, the US, and the EU consider a terrorist organisation.

Damascus water supply

The governor of Syria's Damascus Countryside province said on Wednesday that the regime had agreed with rebels in the Wadi Barada area for technicians to enter a damaged spring facility that supplies water to the capital, regime television reported.

The spring was knocked out of service in late December, reducing water supplies to the 70 percent of inhabitants of Damascus and surrounding areas that it serves.

Fight against Daesh

Nearby to Wadi Barada, the Turkey-backed opposition, Russian-backed regime forces, and the US-backed YPG are conducting operations to try to retake the Tabqa dam from Daesh, after it was earlier taken from the YPG.

A ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia last month does not include Daesh.

Turkey's military said on Wednesday it had killed at least 11 Daesh terrorists in northern Syria in its ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield to secure Turkey's borders.

The army said it also hit 12 Daesh targets in Syria's al-Bab region, including six weapons pits, two control points, and three shelters used by the group.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies