Russia suspends airstrikes as Syrian deal takes hold

Aircraft temporarily grounded to avoid mistakes, senior Russian general says

Russia suspends airstrikes as Syrian deal takes hold

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russia has suspended air operations in Syria under the “cessation of hostilities” agreement, a Russian senior military figure said Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, chief of operations, said airstrikes against ISIL and al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch the Nusra Front would continue but all aircraft had been grounded for now to avoid “possible mistakes”.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Rudskoi said 17 groups had contacted the Russian military to signal their adherence to the agreement that came into effect at midnight Friday local time (2200GMT).

“Russia is fully observing its obligations under the cease-fire,” he said. “But it doesn't mean that the IS [ISIL] and Jabhat al-Nusra militants can breathe a sigh of relief. The fight against bandit groups considered terrorist by the United Nations will continue.”

Hotlines have been established at the Khmeimim base in Syria’s Latakia province to monitor the cessation of hostilities and coordinate information exchanges with the U.S. military, Rudskoi added.

He said Russia and the U.S. militaries had given each other maps showing the location of opposition groups pledging to observe the cessation of hostilities, as well as ISIL and Nusra units. The general said 74 opposition units had agreed to adhere to the deal.

Fighting has stopped in 34 towns and villages in the provinces of Hama, Homs, Damascus while the Russian military is preparing for truce in another 47 towns.

The deal is the latest in a series of diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the five-year conflict.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN's special envoy for Syria, said Friday that he hoped to see peace talks resume on March 7 in Geneva.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Şubat 2016, 09:27