World / Middle East

Syria agrees to enter fresh peace talks, amid new rebel evacuation deals

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-25 09:25

Essential for the implementation of these resolutions is having the Turkish borders closed to the terrorists and having the countries funding and arming terrorists held accountable, Shaba'an noted.

"If they do that, it would be a real prelude to an effective political process with us definitely involved," she said, adding that the Syrian decision will be extremely independent in the negotiations next month in Geneva.

While the political wheels were rolling in the international arena, the Syrian government seemed determined to continue with local truce its Ministry of National Reconciliation with the help of the UN have been implementing.

A source told Xinhua on Thursday that as many as 5,000 armed militants and their families are planned to be evacuated from the al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam districts south of the capital Damascus next Saturday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said members of the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front are among the hardline militants who will be evacuated to rebel-held areas in northern Syria, namely to the de facto city of al-Raqqa and the town of Mare' in the countryside of the northern province of Aleppo.

Those radicals have rejected to be reconciled with the government and that explains their evacuation, while the rebels who will stay in the districts will have to hand over their weapons and surrender themselves to the Syrian authorities to have their criminal records cleared under the deal.

As a goodwill sign, the rebels started removing sand barriers and opened roads between al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam, while the government busses were allowed to reach those areas as part of the preparations to evacuate the hardline jihadists, the source said.

The new deal is also under the UN mediation, said the source, adding that after the implementation of the evacuation in al-Hajar and al-Qadam, a truce with undeclared conditions will be implemented next Monday in the rebel-held town of Zabadani, northwest of the capital Damascus and the two besieged Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa in the countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib.

Previously, the rebels wanted Syrian authorities to halt a broad offensive on rebel-held Zabadani and Madaya towns, while the Iranians and Syrian governments wanted jihadi groups in northwestern province of Idlib to halt their attacks on Shiite towns, which have been subject to repetitive attacks and suffocating siege.

A six-month ceasefire went into effect simultaneously last September in Kafraya and Foa and Zabadani in west of Damascus, near Lebanese borders.

The ceasefire was planned to be followed by a 25-point agreement, which is expected to start soon to settle the situation in the Shiite towns and Zabadani.

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