BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
A main Syrian opposition group says it supports a nationwide cease-fire set to go into effect at midnight and that moderate rebel factions will abide by it, but defend themselves if attacked.
Ahmad Ramadan of the Syrian National Coalition said the truce reached Thursday includes a halt to airstrikes and shelling.
Ramadan said in text messages sent to The Associated Press that members of the Free Syrian Army, a loose alliance of several moderate rebel factions, will abide by the truce but retaliate to violations by government and allied forces.
The Syrian army said the truce does not include al-Qaida’s branch in Syria and the Islamic State group, two of the most powerful armed factions.
Turkey has welcomed a Syrian cease-fire set to come into effect at midnight.
The Foreign Ministry says groups regarded as terror organizations by the U.N. Security Council will be excluded from the cease-fire, in which Turkey and Russia will act as guarantors.
It was apparently referring to the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front.
It says the government and the opposition have agreed to halt attacks, including aerial attacks, and not to expand territories under their control in a way that would be detrimental to each other.
Turkey and Russia would closely follow the situation on the ground to ensure the cease-fire holds. The statement calls on all sides wielding influence on the warring parties to provide the necessary support to halt hostilities.
President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to scale down its presence in Syria, where it has provided crucial support to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Putin spoke Thursday, as a Syrian cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey was set to begin at midnight.
Putin didn’t say how many troops and weapons will be withdrawn. He said Russia will continue “fighting international terrorism in Syria” and supporting Assad’s military.
Putin also said that the Russian military will maintain its presence at both an air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia and the naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus.
The cease-fire is to be followed by renewed peace negotiations to end the nearly six-year conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Egypt will be invited to join the process, and that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan could eventually join as well.
The Syrian army has announced a nationwide cease-fire as of midnight.
In a statement carried by state news agency SANA on Thursday, the military command “declares a comprehensive nationwide cessation of hostilities as of midnight.”
State TV says the cease-fire paves the way for reactivating negotiations to end the conflict.
It says the cease-fire comes after the “successes achieved by the armed forces,” an apparent reference to the capture of rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo earlier this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia and Turkey will guarantee the truce. Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey supports the opposition.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says a Syrian cease-fire agreement has been reached with Turkey.
Putin said Thursday that Russia and Turkey will guarantee the truce, which is set to begin at midnight. He says it will be followed by peace talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and the opposition, and that the Syrian parties would take part in talks to be held in Kazakhstan, without specifying a date.
Syria’s military said it had agreed to a nationwide cease-fire starting at midnight.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the truce will include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria, and that the Russian military has established a hotline with its Turkish counterpart to monitor compliance.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will be welcome to join the Syrian peace process once he takes office.
Russia is a key ally of Assad, while Turkey is one of the main backers of the opposition. Several previous attempts to halt the civil war have failed.
Turkey says Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group should withdraw from Syria and a nationwide cease-fire should come into effect before the end of the year.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with the Turkish A Haber news channel on Thursday that Ankara and Moscow are close to reaching an agreement on a nationwide cease-fire. Turkey would serve as guarantor of rebel compliance, while Russia would guarantee adherence by the government.
He says Iran stated during talks earlier this month in Moscow that it will act as a guarantor for the Syrian government as well as allied Shiite groups, including Hezbollah.
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