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Turkey, Russia agree on Syria truce plan
[ANKARA] Turkey and Russia reached an agreement on a cease-fire plan between rebels and the Syrian government, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.
The two nations are working to enforce the truce from Thursday, the agency reported, citing people it didn't identify. It won't include "terrorist groups", Anadolu said. Turkey regards both Islamic State and US-backed Kurdish forces as terrorists.
Turkey and Russia will be "guarantors" of the cease-fire which, if successful, will help facilitate upcoming talks between the sides in Astana, Kazakhstan, Haberturk television said Wednesday, without citing anyone. The talks in Astana are expected to take place around mid-January.
The plan follows the capture of Aleppo by Syrian government forces backed by Russia and Iran this month. Turkey has also sent troops into Syria in what officials said was an attempt to clear Islamic State and Kurdish fighters from an area of 5,000 square kilometres and establish a "safe zone".
"The agreement virtually brings Russia, Turkey and Iran on the same side, as Turkey is forced to give up its aspirations of regime change in Syria," Ahmet Yavuz, a retired Turkish major general, said by phone Wednesday.
"While Turkey and Russia are trying to take the initiative in Syria, the success of the cease-fire depends on the US stance."
Turkey's cooperation with Russia comes amid mounting tension between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the US.
The president on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of backing both the Kurds and Islamic State. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the claim was "ludicrous".