BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in the civil war in Syria where a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia is due to start at sundown (all times local):
Italy says a Syrian cease-fire could pave the way for political negotiations aimed at ending the long and bloody conflict.
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that a cessation of hostilities must happen before talks can begin.
He said “a long list” of difficulties had confronted U.S. and Russian officials trying to hammer out the deal, but an agreement was reached, with the ceasefire set to begin in a few hours.
The deal, announced last week by the U.S. and Russian foreign ministers, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and Russian-supported Syrian government.
It also allows the government to continue to strike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants for another week.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister says peace talks to end Syria’s five-year civil war could be resumed next month.
Mikhail Bogdanov’s comments on Monday came hours before a cease-fire was scheduled to go into effect in Syria at sunset.
Bogdanov told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency that he expects talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups to resume in early October, adding that Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy to Syria, would name the date.
The cease-fire, announced Saturday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and the Russian-allied Syrian government.
Syrian President Bashar Assad says his government is determined to “reclaim every area from the terrorists, and to rebuild” the country. His remarks came just hours ahead of the start of a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia.
Assad spoke to the state news agency SANA on the streets of Daraya, a Damascus suburb that surrendered to government authority last month.
He says: “We call on all Syrians to turn toward reconciliation.”
Earlier in Daraya, Assad joined the prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in a rare public appearance that sent a strong message to his opponents.
SANA says no civilians were present in the suburb, once home to nearly a quarter million people, after the last of them were evacuated as part of the surrender agreement.
The U.N. envoy for Syria says his office will monitor the start of a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire in Syria “carefully before making any hurried comments.”
Staffan de Mistura said in a text message to The Associated Press on Monday that no statement from his office about the truce was expected before the following afternoon.
The cease-fire, announced last week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, calls for a halt to fighting between the U.S.-backed opposition and Russian-supported Syrian government. It also allows the government to continue to strike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants for another week.
The U.N. offices in Geneva, where de Mistura is based, was closed Monday to honor the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Activists say Syrian government forces and their allies are bombing opposition areas in the country’s north, just hours ahead of the start of a U.S.- and Russia-brokered cease-fire.
The bombing on Monday came as al-Qaida-linked militants pushed on with an offensive in the country’s southern Quneitra province.
Ahmad Primo, an opposition media activist in the contested city of Aleppo, says airstrikes on the city’s rebel-held eastern district “have not let up” since the morning.
The Local Coordination Committees monitoring group reported airstrikes on the Aleppo neighborhoods and suburbs of Rashiddine, Salihine, and Jazmata.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 18 militants were killed fighting government forces in the push in the south.
Turkey’s president says his country will send food, clothing and children’s toys to the contested Syrian city of Aleppo after a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire takes effect at sundown in the neighboring country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge came at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Monday and the Turkish leader says the aid will be delivered along specific routes at sundown.
Erdogan said Turkey’s Red Crescent, along with the country’s disaster and emergency management agency, will try to deliver aid to the northern Syrian towns of al-Rai and Jarablus.
Ankara’s incursion last month into northern Syria has helped Syrian rebels retake Jarablus from the Islamic State group.
A cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia is set to begin at sunset in Syria amid mixed messages of commitment from various rebel factions but with verbal backing by President Bashar Assad’s government.
Assad made a rare public appearance on Monday, attending prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at a mosque in the suburb of Daraya, which surrendered last month after four years of government siege.
The cease-fire deal hammered out between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva last week allows the Syrian government to continue to strike at the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants, until the U.S. and Russia take over the task in one week’s time.
Rebel factions have expressed deep reservations about the deal.
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