Russia submits resolution on Syrian ceasefire to UNSC – Russian UN envoy

Russia has submitted a draft resolution aimed at supporting the nationwide ceasefire in Syria to the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said, expressing his hope that the UNSC will vote on the document the next day.

The documents that “establishes a ceasefire as well as obliges the Syrian government and the opposition to start direct talks in Astana in late January” were revealed Thursday and sent to the UNSC, Churkin told journalists, adding that on Friday, Russia would formally present both documents at the UNSC meeting together with a draft resolution supporting the ceasefire in Syria.

“I hope that tomorrow morning we will put it [the resolution] to a vote and adopt it unanimously so that the Security Council also could join this important process,” he said. The Russian envoy to the UN also stressed that Moscow welcomes the participation of every side that is genuinely willing to join “serious negotiations” in the upcoming talks in Astana.

“All [groups] that regard themselves as opposition but are ready to start serious talks with the [Syrian] government can come to Astana,” he said, adding that seven major armed opposition groups expressed their intention to join the negotiations so far.

Earlier, a diplomatic source at the UN headquarters told TASS that Russia “requested a meeting” that “is expected to focus on the ceasefire announced in Syria.”

The meeting will be held later on Friday immediately after an open session that will review a draft resolution on prolonging the UN’s Oil-for-Food Program (OIP), which was established in 1995 to help Iraq exchange oil for food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies.

Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Russia would present a deal to the UN that was struck between the Syrian government and seven major rebel groups, including hardline Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam. According to a list released by the Russian Defense Ministry, other militant groups that have pledged to comply with its provisions include Faylaq Al-Sham, Thuwar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Muwahhideen, Jaysh Idlib, and Jabhat al-Shamiyah,.

“We will inform UNSC members of the work we have done and answer their questions,” Lavrov said.

If any of the groups fails to abide by the conditions stipulated in the deal, it will become a legitimate target for attack.

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The agreement mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, which has been outlined in three key documents and purports to cover the whole territory of Syria, obligates some 60,000 rebel fighters, as well as the Syrian government and allied militias, to observe the ceasefire. Russia and Turkey are listed as guarantors to the deal.

“The first was signed by the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to stop hostilities in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. The second one is a set of measures to control the ceasefire. The third document is a declaration of intention for Syrian settlement,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, while cautioning that the truce is “fragile.”

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The agreement stipulates that negotiations between the armed opposition and the Syrian government should commence a month after the ceasefire takes effect, the Daily Sabbath reported, citing a preliminary draft of the deal.

Astana has been chosen as the venue for the peace talks, which are expected to pave the way for political settlement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to have played an active role in making the new deal possible against the backdrop of increasingly strained US-Turkish rhetoric. Erdogan has accused the US of supporting Kurdish militants that Ankara considers terrorists, and even Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL), while failing to demonstrate solid support for Turkey, a NATO ally.

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If the agreement proves to be long-lasting, Russia will consider phasing out its military presence in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.