“Political transition” is a phrase understood by the opposition to mean a removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad or at least an erosion of his powers.
“The operation to gain complete control of the al-Bab region has neared its end and the resistance of the Daesh terror group has largely been broken,” the Turkish military statement said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“We expect to start very, very shortly with just a handful of people,” a U.N. human rights official told Reuters.
This month, in a rare move, the Syrian government and rebel groups swapped dozens of women prisoners and hostages, some of them with their children, in Hama province in northwestern Syria.
Lebanese Hezbollah movement strongly supports the Syrian ceasefire agreed on in Kazakhstan and any truce that could lead to a political solution, its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday.
President Bashar al-Assad rejected the creation of safe zones for refugees and displaced people in Syria, an idea supported by U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a transcript from an interview with Yahoo News released on Friday.
“The battles began a short while ago to complete what had been achieved yesterday,” said a commander of a leading FSA group fighting in al-Bab, who requested anonymity.
Syrian army’s advance towards al-Bab risks triggering a confrontation with the Turkish military and its allies, groups fighting under the Free Syria Army banner, which have been waging their own campaign to take the city.
Syrian army signalled it would press on with operations against Islamic State northeast of Aleppo, in a veiled warning to Turkey which backs a separate military campaign in northern Syria.
Rebel backers including Qatar have welcomed Trump’s support for safe zones, and Turkey says it is waiting to see the outcome of the U.S. president’s pledge.
SYRIA POLITICS: Bashar al-Assad Army Recaptures All Towns, Villages in Wadi Barada Valley Near Damascus
Military support from President Bashar al-Assad’s foreign allies, including Russia, Iran and Lebanese group Hezbollah, have been instrumental in helping turn the nearly six-year civil war in his favour.
“The Syrian army has entered Ain al-Fija … and raised the Syrian flag over the spring installation,” the Hezbollah media unit’s statement said. It said this was part of a deal reached with insurgents, who under the agreement would depart the area.
President Donald Trump’s push to create safe zones in Syria could force him to make some risky decisions about how far to go to protect refugees, including shooting down Syrian or Russian aircraft or committing thousands of U.S. troops, experts said.
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham targeted FSA groups in northwestern Syria in an area representing the rebellion’s main territorial foothold after the opposition’s defeat in Aleppo last month.
Delegations from the Syrian government and opposition were holding indirect talks for a second day in the Kazakh capital at a time when Turkey, which backs the rebels, and Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, each want to disentangle themselves from the fighting.
“It’s a real test of the power of Russia and its influence over the regime and Iran as a guarantor of the deal, so if it fails in this role there will follow bigger failures,” Mohammad Alloush said.
Russia, Assad set the new diplomatic effort in motion after Syrian rebels suffered major defeat last month by losing control of districts of eastern Aleppo.
The army and the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim militia Hezbollah gained complete control of the town of Baseimah, taking them close to Ain al-Fija where the water springs are located.
Assad: “Who will be there from the other side? Will it be a real Syrian opposition? If they want to discuss this point they must discuss the constitution.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes began on Sunday morning, after a lull since Saturday morning during which a new round of negotiations over repairs took place.