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Deal proposes 'drawn and thirded' Syria under Assad figurehead

Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed an outline deal on Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 December, 2016

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Details have emerged of a proposed deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran to bring the war in Syria to an end by carving the country into three zones of influence.
Syria would be divided into zones of regional power influence and Bashar al-Assad would remain president for at least a few years under an outline deal with Russia, Turkey and Iran, sources say.

The deal, which would allow regional autonomy within a federal structure controlled by Assad's Alawite sect, is in its infancy, subject to change and would need the buy-in of Assad and the rebels as well as the Gulf states and the United States, sources told Reuters.

"There has been a move toward a compromise," said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"A final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted."

Assad's powers would be cut under a deal between the three nations, say several sources. Russia and Turkey would allow him to stay until the next presidential election when he would quit in favour of a less polarising Alawite candidate.

Iran has yet to be persuaded of that, say the sources. But either way Assad would eventually go, in a face-saving way, with guarantees for him and his family.

"A couple of names in the leadership have been mentioned (as potential successors)," said Kortunov, declining to name names.

Foreign and defence ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Moscow on 20 December and set out the principles they thought any Syria deal should adhere to.

Russian sources say the first step is to get a nationwide ceasefire and then to get talks underway.

Negotiations between Syrian regime and opposition representatives are scheduled to begin in mid-January in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, a close Russian ally.

According to AP, however, several rebel groups have said they are withholding their agreement to a nationwide truce until they receive details of its terms.

"The details of the ceasefire have not been presented officially to the opposition factions yet, and there is no agreement at this point," the official said.

Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives over the course of Syria's now nearly six-year civil war.

Both the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have been accused of committing war crimes in Aleppo.

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