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Syrian ceasefire talks to start this week

 

A planned cessation of hostilities in Syria will come into effect at midnight on 27 February, the US and Russia have announced.

Their statement said the truce did not include so-called Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, BBC News reports.

World powers agreed on 12 February that a truce would come into effect within a week, but that deadline passed and scepticism remains over the new plan.

On Sunday 140 died in bombings in Homs and Damascus as the violence continued.

More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict which began in March 2011.

Some 11 million others have been forced from their homes, of whom four million have fled abroad - including growing numbers who are making the dangerous journey to Europe.

Separately, Syria's government has called a parliamentary election for 13 April. The last was in 2012 and they are held every four years.

The White House said that President Barack Obama had phoned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at Mr Putin's request to discuss the efforts to establish the cessation of hostilities.

After their phone call, the joint Russian-US statement was released.

The truce applied to "those parties to the Syrian conflict that have indicated their commitment to and acceptance of its terms", the statement said.

This excluded IS, Nusra and "other terrorist organisations designated by the UN".

Air strikes by Syria, Russia and the US-led coalition against these groups would continue, the statement reads.


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