Syria ceasefire guarantors hold discussions in Russian capital

Senior diplomats of Iran, Russia, and Turkey, which act as guarantors of an all-Syria ceasefire, hold consultations in Moscow amid efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in the Arab country.

The meeting was held on Tuesday within the Astana format. The Kazakh capital has been hosting talks since January 2017 between the Syrian government and opposition, with the guarantor states in attendance as mediators.

“We aim to use the consultations in this format to ‘synchronize our watches’ and to consider the situation on the ground and around Syria,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

The discussions are meant to help “continue our successful cooperation in the Astana format, including organization,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister’s Special Assistant for Political Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, has been representing Iran in both the Astana talks and the relevant consultations.

Participants in the Moscow gathering decided that the next top-level meeting in the format would take place in Astana in November.

In late 2016, the countries began cooperating towards ending violence in Syria, which has been suffering from foreign-backed militancy for the past seven years.

Tehran and Moscow back Damascus, while Turkey sides with the militants in the joint effort.

The talks in Moscow come as eyes are now set on the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, the last major stronghold for the militants and Takfiri terrorists.

Moscow and Ankara have devised a plan for the creation of a buffer zone inside the province.

The plan, aimed at disarming the militants and Takfiris and having them leave the de-escalation area, has put an all-out Syrian counter-terrorism operation targeting the province on hold.

Damascus, however, has insisted that the plan was only “temporary,” and that the province had to ultimately fall back under government control.

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