Thursday 29 December, 2016 Update: Syrian Ceasefire Deal Signed

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According to the Russian and Turkish governments, the Syrian government and opposition rebels have agreed to the ground rules for a ceasefire in the conflict. Both sides have also agreed to peace talks that could potentially bring an end to the almost six year long civil war. The truce does not include ISIS or a host of other terrorist groups now operating inside of Syria. Efforts against ISIS will continue, and a joint US-Russian effort against Islamic Militants is expected to begin sometime after the inauguration of Donald Trump in late January. Turkey and Russia will be the guarantors of the ceasefire, effectively cutting out the United States and other nations that oppose Assad from having influence over what postwar Syria will look like. The US played no part in the negotiations which led to the ceasefire. Turkey itself is staunchly opposed to Bashir al-Assad remaining in power. However, for the time being it appears that Ankara is willing to live with him remaining in Damascus.

The fall of eastern Aleppo made it clear to opposition rebels that their political and military options were now severely limited. The rebels no longer had a strong presence in any of Syria’s largest cities, and the incoming US president will not be resupplying them or supporting their efforts to remove al-Assad any further. Faced with these new realities, the rebels became more pragmatic and sat down with the Syrian government to compromise.

Whether the truce holds and leads to more formal peace talks remains to be seen. Quite honestly, ceasefires in Syria seem to have a history of being made simply to be broken. But this time around, a ceasefire benefits all parties involved, at least for the moment.

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