Syrian regime has approved "a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib starting from tonight" on the condition militants and rebels withdraw forces and weaponry from a buffer zone as per a September accord struck in the Russian city of Sochi.
The Syrian regime has agreed to a truce in the northwestern region of Idlib on condition a Turkish-Russian buffer-zone deal is implemented, regime news agency SANA reported on Thursday.
It cited a military source who announced the regime's "approval for a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib starting from tonight" on the condition militants and rebels withdraw forces and weaponry from a buffer zone as per a September accord struck in the Russian resort city of Sochi.
Russia welcomed the decision.
"Of course, we welcome the Syrian government's decision to introduce a truce," Moscow's envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentyev was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency after the first day of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.
Meanwhile, parties to the Astana talks on the war in Syria met once again for two days in Nur-Sultan. The UN has called the talks the most effective dialogue to end the Syrian war.
After 12 previous rounds since 2017, however, the situation on the ground remains much the same. The UN says more than 400,000 people have been internally displaced by the war.
Iran, Russia and Turkey are the three main Astana guarantors, who will be in attendance along with observers from the UN and Jordan.
Members of the Syrian opposition and Assad regime also attended, with Lebanon and Iraq joining the talks for the first time.
TRT World speaks to Syria analyst Oytun Orhan on Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital.
The current Astana talks are meant to focus on the Idlib region, home to more than three million people. The province is said to be the worst hit and is the last remaining opposition and rebel stronghold.
Around 800 people have died in regime bombing in the last three months alone, even within the de-escalation zone, despite a ceasefire agreement.
The region has been bombarded almost daily by Russian-backed regime forces.
It's hoped that representatives will also address confidence building measures between the Syrian parties, and plans to form a constitutional committee.
Rounds of talks
Previous rounds of talks accomplished a prisoner exchange, and opened a way for direct dialogue between the Syrian regime and the opposition. The talks also created a framework of rules for safe zones. But the Assad regime's attacks on the safe zones meant the last talks held in March-April of last year were mired in disagreements.
The UN and other members of the international community are hoping for the two-day talks to make headway in breaking the deadlock in order to work on a permanent ceasefire in Syria.
UN to investigate airstrikes
Secretary General Antonio Guterres is establishing an inquiry into a series of the regime and Russian attacks on UN-supported facilities, including hospitals, in northwestern Syria's Idlib province, his spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Stephane Dujarric said Guterres' investigate board "will ascertain the facts of these incidents and report to the Secretary-General upon the completion of its work."
"The Secretary-General urges all parties concerned to cooperate with the Board once it has been established," he added.
At the time of the request, Human Rights Watch offered strong support for the inquiry, saying the UN provided Russia, the regime and other parties with "coordinates of hospitals in Idlib to ensure their safety."
"Yet time and again, those life-saving facilities have been bombed," Louis Charbonneau, the rights organization’s UN director, said in a statement.
At least 450 civilians have been killed since the regime offensive began in April, according to the UN. That includes over 100 in the past two weeks.