Syrian opposition 'accepts two-week ceasefire'

Syrian opposition 'accepts two-week ceasefire'
The Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee announced on Wednesday it would respect the provisional ceasefire in Syria 'for two weeks'.
2 min read
25 February, 2016
The proposed truce is to start at midnight on Friday [AFP]

The Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee said Wednesday it would respect a provisional ceasefire in Syria "for two weeks", ahead of the proposed start of the truce this weekend.

"The High Negotiations Committee believes a provisional truce for two weeks would provide a chance to determine the commitment of the other side" to the ceasefire, the group said in a statement.

The Syrian government on Tuesday accepted the terms of the US-Russian led ceasefire deal, but said it would "continue counter terrorism efforts" against the Islamic State group (IS) and al-Qaeda groups, a foreign ministry statement said.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Wednesday that the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) also agreed to the terms of the ceasefire deal.

However, the Kurdish militia fighting on multiple fronts against some opposition groups in addition to IS while being shelling by Turkish forces, said it reserves the right to retaliate if attacked.

"We, in the People's Protection Units (YPG), give great importance (to the plan), and we will abide by it completely, while reserving the right to respond to any aggressor in the framework of legitimate self-defense," YPG official Redur Xelil told Reuters.

Turkey, which said it was not optimistic about the implementation of the deal threatened to continue its shelling of YPG positions if "necessary".

Turkey has been alarmed by advances of YPG forces in northern Syria, fearing they are working to create an autonomous Kurdish region on the country's doorstep.

Ankara accuses the YPG and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), its  political wing, of being the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

"Turkey will defend its territorial integrity. That is clear," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara on Wednesday.

The temporary ceasefire deal announced on Monday by US and Russian officials excludes IS and al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, as well as any other group deemed a "terrorist organisation" by the UN Security Council.

The ceasefire deal aims to pave the way for a resumption of UN-led Geneva peace talks that collapsed earlier this month.