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Top Republican senator says Syrian war 'over'

07 January 2017

The fate of Syria following its six-year civil war would be dictated in Moscow, not Washington, reaffirming president Bashar Assad's regime's hold on power, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee said yesterday.

The recapture of the Syrian city of Aleppo, spelt the beginning of the end of the war and stood as the final rebuke of president Obama's strategy in the region, Senator Bob Corker said.

''Western Syria is over,'' Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters yesterday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. ''This is all going to be decided on Russia's terms.''

Russian negotiators, along with Turkish and Iranian diplomats, had helped negotiate the cease-fire deal that brought Aleppo back under regime control last month. Moscow also drafted the tentative peace plan that had led to the cessation of hostilities in the country.

Both pacts were facilitated without the help of the US and, according to commentators, Russia's political and military role in Syria all but guaranteed Assad would remain in power.

Meanwhile, according to Turkey, forces fighting for  Syria's president Bashar al-Assad had violated the fragile ceasefire negotiated by Turkey and Russia, putting the upcoming Russian-brokered peace talks in Kazakhstan at risk.

Syria's allies, Russia and Iran, would work to facilitate peace talks in association with US ally Turkey, bringing the Syrian government and opposition together in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this month. Russia and Turkey agreed a ceasefire that got underway yesterday. It had been threatened by reports of renewed fighting in the Wadi Barada region near the capital, Damascus.

Speaking to state-run news agency Anadolu on Wednesday Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Syrian government forces and its foreign backers of violating the deal. He urged  Damascus to put an end to fighting, as it risked jeopardising planned talks in Astana.

"If we do not stop the increasing violations, the Astana process could fail,'' he said. ''After the ceasefire, we see violations,'' Newsweek reported.

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