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Assad assures Putin over ceasefire

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assured Russia’s Vladimir Putin of his readiness to respect a ceasefire agreement as the Kremlin strongman today launched a diplomatic offensive to get the deal off the ground.

Apart from securing Assad’s pledge to support the truce deal brokered by Moscow and Washington, Putin also held phone talks with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.

“Very intense contacts are underway,” Putin’s spokesman Peskov told reporters.

Amid the diplomatic blitz a senior Assad political adviser, Busseina Shaaban, has arrived in Moscow, a spokesman for Vitaly Naumkin, a Russian academic who has taken part in talks on the Syrian crisis, told AFP.

The Kremlin said that Assad “confirmed the readiness of the Syrian government to facilitate the establishment of a ceasefire.”

Assad noted that the proposals were an “important step in the direction of a political settlement,” Moscow said.

The ceasefire agreement, which does not apply to jihadists like the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra Front, calls for a “cessation of hostilities” between regime forces and opposition groups from midnight Friday Damascus time (2200 GMT).

Putin and Assad “stressed the importance of continuing an uncompromising fight” against the IS group, Al-Nusra Front and “other terrorist groups included in the relevant UN Security Council list,” Moscow said.

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