Syrian army says countrywide ceasefire to start midnight Thursday

 Syrian army says countrywide ceasefire to start midnight Thursday

Syrian army personnel in Aleppo.

Syrian army personnel in Aleppo.
(Reuters) The Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting to begin at midnight on Thursday, in a move designed to pave the way for a political solution to the country’s more-than six-year-old war.

In a statement carried by Syrian state news agency SANA, the army said the ceasefire will begin at 0000 on Dec. 30.

It excluded Islamic State, the group formerly known as the Nusra Front and all groups linked to them.

Turkey and Russia will act as guarantors of the nationwide ceasefire in Syria that is due to go into effect at midnight, Turkey’s foreign ministry said earlier.

Ankara said the ceasefire agreement excluded groups deemed as terrorists by the U.N. Security Council and noted the importance of support from countries influential on the fighting sides.

“With this agreement, parties have agreed to cease all armed attacks, including aerial, and have promised not to expand the areas they control against each other,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Representatives from the Syrian government and the opposition will meet in Astana, Kazakhstan in the supervision of guarantor countries soon, the statement added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government had signed a number of documents including the ceasefire.

He also said that Russia had agreed to reduce its military deployment in Syria.

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