Syria power brokers endorse ceasefire deal at talks
ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP):
Russia, Iran and Turkey presented a united front at the conclusion of two days of talks in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and the armed opposition, pledging support for the country's shaky ceasefire and a joint mechanism to ensure compliance.
They did not specify how that would work, and continued differences among the warring sides as well as rebel infighting back home threatened to quickly scuttle the deal.
"It's going to be a challenge, it's not going to be easy," the UN's Syria envoy, who mediated between the two sides in the Kazakh capital of Astana, told reporters later.
Russia and Iran, President Bashar Assad's main supporters, and Turkey, the rebels' chief backer, said they will use their "influence" to strengthen the truce, which has been in place since December 30. Their joint efforts have raised hopes for a diplomatic end to the brutal six-year conflict. Previous efforts by the US and Russia for a lasting ceasefire led nowhere.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday the US welcomes actions that de-escalate violence in the country and called on Russia, Iran and Syria to press the Syrian sides to abide by the ceasefire in order to create an environment more conductive to political discussions.
The US, busy with the presidential transition, had no significant role in the talks between the Syrian government and its armed opponents in Kazakhstan this week.