11th round of Syria peace talks ends in Astana

Thu 29 Nov 2018 11:54 GMT | 15:54 Local Time

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The 11th round of Syria peace talks in the Astana format concluded on Thursday with a decision to step up joint efforts to prevent violations of the cease-fire in Idlib, Anadolu Agency reported.

The two-day event kicked off with a meeting between representatives of Russia and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime in the Kazakh capital on Wednesday.

On the second day of the meeting, the parties held bilateral and trilateral meetings to agree on a final declaration. At the main session, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kayrat Abdrahmanov read out the final declaration

It condemned the use of chemical weapons and urged an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of their alleged use in Syria’s civil war.

Turkey, Russia and Iran decided to step up joint efforts to prevent violations of the cease-fire in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

The guarantor countries also agreed to support the Syrian parties establishing a Constitutional Committee in Geneva as soon as possible.

The declaration highlighted the parties’ commitment to Syria's territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty, underlining that the fight will continue against all kinds of terrorist groups.

It also stressed that protecting the cease-fire in Idlib is important for the fight against terrorism.

Turkey's delegation at the talks -- led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedal Onal -- held meetings with the opposition as well as Russian and Iranian representatives.

The next Astana meeting is set to be held next February.

The first meeting in the Astana format for reaching a cease-fire in Syria was held in January 2017.

Nine meetings were held in Astana, while the 10th was held in Sochi, Russia this July.

After a Sept. 17 meeting in Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited -- in Idlib.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas where they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will carry out joint patrols in the area to prevent a resumption of fighting.

On Oct. 10, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the Syrian opposition and other anti-regime groups had completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Idlib demilitarized zone.

Despite the cease-fire agreement, the Assad regime and its allies have continued their low-intensity attacks on Idlib’s de-escalation zone.

The conflict in Syria began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.




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