Ceasefire coordination centre set up in Syria: Russia

Moscow, Feb 24 (IANS) A coordination centre began operations at Syria’s Hmeimim airbase in order to implement the ceasefire, the Russian defence ministry has said.

“In accordance with the Russian-US February 22 agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, for the implementation of mechanism to monitor compliance with the ceasefire regime, a coordination centre for reconciliation of the warring parties started operations at the Russian airbase Hmeimim in Syria,” Xinhua quoted the ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying on Tuesday.

The Syrian airbase was used to deploy Russian air forces since last September when Moscow started airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria.

Konashenkov said that Syrian opposition groups willing to start peace talks may get help from the centre to establish contact with the government.

“Russian contact information for hotline connection (primary and backup) was transferred to Americans,” the ministry said.

The ministry added that the Russian side expected Washington to provide the same data.

The US and Russia announced on Monday in a joint statement that any party engaged in conflict in Syria will indicate to Russia or the US their commitment to the ceasefire by no later than 12.00 (Damascus time) on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the ceasefire agreement “a real step” toward ending five years of bloodshed in Syria.

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