Russia vows to ensure Damascus observes ceasefire: Putin

Moscow (AFP) - Russia will do "whatever is necessary" to ensure that Damascus respects a Syrian ceasefire agreement that Moscow and Washington say will take effect on February 27, President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
"We will do whatever is necessary with Damascus, with the legitimate Syrian authorities," Putin said during a televised address after speaking by phone with US President Barack Obama.
"We are counting on the United States to do the same with its allies and the groups that it supports."
Putin said the United States and Russia were "ready to put in place an effective control mechanism" to ensure respect of the ceasefire, adding that a "direct line of communication will be created as well as, if necessary, a working group to exchange information".
"Finally a real chance to bring an end to the years of bloodshed and violence is emerging," Putin said.

The Russian president said the ceasefire agreement had come out of "intense work by teams of Russian and American experts", made easier by the "positive experience" of a US-Russian deal on the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, signed in September 2013.
"All fighting groups should confirm to us, or to the United States, their commitment to this truce," Putin said of the deal signed between Moscow and Washington on Monday.
"The Russian and American militaries, together, will define the territories on which these groups are operating. There will be no military operations against them."
But "with regard to the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups recognised as such by the UN, a ceasefire is totally excluded. The strikes against them will continue," he added.
Russia and the United States said in a joint statement that the partial truce would come into force at midnight Damascus time on Saturday (2200 GMT Friday).

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