Sevil Erkuş – Hürriyet / 13 Ağustos () - Ankara contributed to the declaration of a recent 48-hour cease-fire among Syria’s warring parties in a frontline area, Turkish officials have claimed.
“Turkey made an indirect contribution in providing the truce” sources from the Foreign Ministry told the Hürriyet Daily News on Aug. 12, noting that Ankara would continue any efforts for truce in Syria.
The cease-fire halted fighting between insurgents on the one hand and the army and its Hezbollah allies on the other, in the rebel-held town of Zabadani and in a pair of Shiite villages in Syria’s Idlib province. The two areas are strongholds of each side under ferocious attack by the other, meaning both could benefit from a cease-fire by evacuating civilians or combatants.
“A cease-fire began at 6 a.m. today for 48 hours to halt military operations in Zabadani” Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV reported. “It also includes the two villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in the Idlib countryside.”
Zabadani, has been the focus of a weeks-long offensive by the army and Hezbollah aimed at wresting control of the town from rebels.
The two Shiite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, meanwhile, have been targeted in a parallel offensive by an insurgent alliance that includes the Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, both of which are extremist jihadist organizations.
No engagement with Iran
Iran also took part in mediation efforts for the 48-hour cease-fire in Syria. But the Turkish official underlined that these mediation efforts were not carried out in “engagement” with Iran.
“This should not be perceived as if the move was carried out hand-in-hand with Iran. There was no engagement with Iran but we had an interest in these efforts for truce,” the Turkish source said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was due in Damascus on Aug. 12 and expected to discuss a new peace plan for Syria. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said details of a new plan for the Syria crisis would be revealed after Zarif held talks with Damascus and other players.