Yasin Aktay, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party [official website] said on Wednesday that the government is pushing for a Syrian cease-fire to be in place by 2017. Aktay confirmed that talks between Russia and Turkey are ongoing and that “Turkey’s insistence is … to bring the sides together and for a cease-fire to come about as we enter 2017.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu [official profile] stated [WP report] that terrorist organizations would be kept out of the ceasefire agreement. The Russian Foreign Ministry [official website] confirmed [New Zealand Herald] that the UN envoy for Syria has promised to help negotiate a ceasefire and assist with proposed peace talks. Sergei Zheleznyak, a Russian Member of Parliament, stated [Andalou report] that the plan was an important step towards a political solution in Syria.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups began protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In March, Amnesty International reported that Russian and Syrian armed forces are deliberately attacking hospitals and other medical facilities as part of a military strategy to clear the way to northern Aleppo. Just prior, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed [press release] two resolutions calling for an international tribunal in the Middle East to address the alleged war crimes [JURIST report] committed by the government of Syria and its allies, specifically Russia and Iran.