Syrian Govt, Rebels Agree to Extend Ceasefire

Two Sides Agree to Fight ISIS, Nusra Front

by Jason Ditz, January 25, 2017

In a sign that some progress is being made in the Syrian peace talks in Astana, the government an the attending rebels have issued a joint statement agreeing to extend the ceasefire in the country, saying they intend to both pursue a fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

The statement is a major boost to the ceasefire and the sense that the talks are accomplishing something, with the added perk that this is the first time the rebels affirmed that the Nusra Front are not part of the ceasefire, nor the peace process.

That’s unsurprising, however, as Nusra Front forces launched a major attack against rebel participants in the peace talks started Tuesday night, and by early Wednesday had wiped out an entire Free Syrian Army (FSA) faction in the Idlib Province.

While that served to clarify the issue and separate the “moderate Islamists” more directly from al-Qaeda, the fact that one of the substantial parties of the ceasefire was outright wiped out also leaves open the question of whether there are enough rebels left at the Astana talks to be a meaningful negotiating force.

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