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UN Security Council Unanimously Backs Syria Peace Plan

(AFP) — The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved a resolution supporting a Russian-Turkish peace initiative for Syria, including an ongoing ceasefire and talks next month in Kazakhstan.

The resolution aims to pave the way for talks in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana under the aegis of key Syria government backers Russia and Iran, and of rebel supporter Turkey.

The text of the measure “welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jumpstart a political process.”

The ceasefire, which remained largely intact Saturday in its second day, was brokered by Russia and Turkey, which have been working increasingly closely on Syria.

The truce excludes jihadist groups the Islamic State and former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front.

Turkey and Russia say the Astana talks will supplement, not replace, UN-backed peace efforts, including talks set for February in Geneva.

Washington has been conspicuously absent from the new process but has called the truce “positive.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor of the war, said Saturday that most of Syria remained calm, despite limited clashes.

The government in Damascus called the ceasefire a “real opportunity” to find a political solution to a war that has claimed more than 310,000 lives.

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