Turkey hails world powers’ Syria plan as ‘important step’

Syrian walk at a camp near the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey, in Syria, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

Syrian walk at a camp near the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey, in Syria, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

Turkey on Friday hailed a plan agreed by world powers to cease hostilities in Syria within a week as an important step and an opportunity to find a solution to the almost five-year civil war.

The agreement by the 17 countries of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) “is an important step on the way to finding a solution to the Syrian crisis,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.

“What is important now is embracing this opportunity, stopping the airstrikes, ceasing targeting civilians and providing humanitarian access.”

The world powers, including Turkey, agreed at talks in Munich “to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin in a target of one week’s time,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Turkey, which has a 911 kilometre (566 mile) border with Syria, is a key player in efforts to find a solution to the conflict.

Ankara had insisted that the departure of President Bashar al-Assad is essential to ending the fighting, a position which brings Turkey into direct confrontation with his major remaining allies Iran and Russia.

Turkey also supports moderate rebel groups seeking to oust Assad though it has vehemently denied claims it has sought to arm Islamist-tinted opposition forces.

Peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian protagonists in the conflict broke up without any progress earlier this month as the regime and its Russian allies pressed a successful offensive in the north of the country.

But Cavusoglu said the agreement of world powers had highlighted the issues in the way of the Geneva process.

“It presented an opportunity to unblock (the) stalemate before the political process,” he added.


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