The Russian Reconciliation Center announced on Friday that a total of 104 opposition groups in Syria have joined the Russia-Turkey brokered cease-fire. The news come as the negotiations between the Assad regime and opposition toward a political solution to the six-year bloody civil war in Syria are due to begin on Monday. The U.S. and the U.N. are also invited to the conference. Furthermore, the statement from the Russian Reconciliation Center further said that the "total number of inhabited areas, the leaders of which had signed reconciliation agreements has reached 1,136."
While Syria has been trapped in a tragic civil war since early 2011 with the Assad regime's onslaught on pro-democracy protests that erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings, the Astana meeting that is to be held on Jan. 23 as part of Turkey and Russia's joint ongoing efforts aims to finally reach a permanent solution in Syria. In that respect, the Russian Reconciliation Center's bulletin said yesterday that "within the last 24 hours, one cease-fire agreement has been signed with representatives of Tlazik in the Latakia province." Negotiations on joining the cease-fire regime have been continuing with field commanders of detachments of armed opposition in the Homs, Hama, Aleppo, and al-Quneitra provinces, the statement said. According to the center's report, Turkish officials have registered 12 cease-fire violations in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib within the last 24 hours yesterday.
Commenting on the upcoming Astana talks, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said in Davos yesterday that "the facts on the ground have changed dramatically," while also telling Sputnik that Turkey is "hopeful that the current level in violence will be converted into a more permanent cease-fire, and then hopefully there will be the beginning of a lasting settlement." Meanwhile, the representative of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohammed Alloush speaking to AFP last week said that "Astana is a process to end the bloodletting by the regime and its allies. We want to end this series of crimes." Similarly to the Syrian opposition HNC official Alloush's remarks, Bashar Assad told a Japanese TV station that he believed the Astana talks would lead to "reconciliation."