Syria’s President Assad announces April parliamentary elections
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called for parliamentary elections to be held on April 13.
The announcement was made via an official statement released by Syria’s presidential office on Monday and came directly after the US and Russia announced a ceasefire in the war-torn Arab country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the conditions for the truce, which is set to take place on February 27 midnight Damascus time, on a Russian television broadcast.
“All warring sides in Syria must confirm, to us or to our US partners, their commitment to the ceasefire before noon on February 26,” he said.
Putin went on to note that his country and the US would jointly map out the locations where the warring sides were active.
“No combat operations will be conducted against them by the Syrian armed forces, the Russian armed forces and the US-led coalition,” the Russian president said, adding, “For their part, the opposition will cease hostilities against the Syrian armed forces and the groups providing support for them.”
The conditions of the ceasefire, which does not apply to the Daesh Takfir terrorist group and al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, were also released via a US State Department statement.
Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition group, the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said it agreed “to respond positively to international efforts to reach a truce deal,” although its “commitment to the truce is conditional.”
Turkey hails ceasefire plans
“We view it as possible that a ceasefire will be reached. We hope it will not be like previous ceasefires and will have the capacity to be implemented,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus during a cabinet meeting.
“We hope that Russia, in its fight against Daesh, will not fly its jets and kill innocent people” he added.
High-ranking Russian officials have repeatedly said that they are targeting all terrorist groups in Syria, including Daesh, denying Western media reports that civilians have been killed in Russian airstrikes.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also welcomed the deal, stressing that it was an “important step towards reducing the horrendous levels of violence in Syria.”
He noted that the deal would only work if Russia showed its compliance “by clearly only targeting Daesh and those recognized as terrorists by the international community.”
Hammond also voiced hopes that the truce would pave the way for political negotiations “to re-start in earnest.”
The deal was also hailed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who referred to it as a long-awaited “signal of hope.”
Syria is in the midst of deadly militancy with government forces and allies, backed by Russia’s air cover, continuing to battle terrorist groups across the Arab country. Forces loyal to Assad have managed over the past few weeks to recapture major positions from Daesh and al-Nusra Front in the north.
More than 470,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced in nearly five years of fighting in Syria.