Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Syrian crisis with Syrian strongman Bashar Assad on Wednesday in a telephone conversation, reports said. Assad accepted a ceasefire plan brokered by the US and Russia, which is to go into effect on Saturday.
“Various aspects of the Syrian crisis were discussed in the light of the tasks to implement the statement Russia and the United States made as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group on the cessation of hostilities in Syria as of February 27, 2016,” the Kremlin said, according to Russian news agency Tass. The Russians added that Assad "described the proposals contained in the aforesaid statement as an important stride toward a political settlement. In part, he confirmed the Syrian government’s preparedness to promote truce.”
The Kremlin also said, according to Tass, that the two leaders emphasized the importance of fighting ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups, which have been included in the list of terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council.
Putin also discussed the ceasefire with the leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Regarding Putin's call to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, "Primary attention was focused on the Syrian issues, in particular the discussion of initiatives and proposals laid out in the Joint Statement of Russia and the United States on the cessation of hostilities in Syria," the Kremlin said.
It added that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud "welcomed the achieved agreements and expressed readiness for mutual work with Russia to realize them."
Saudi Arabia has been backing of the Syrian opposition and rebel factions, whereas Russia supports Assad.
The Syrian opposition has not yet decided whether it will commit to the US-Russian ceasefire plan, chief opposition negotiator Mohamad Alloush told Orient News.
Alloush, who heads the political office of Jaish al-Islam, one of the biggest rebel factions, said that the opposition bloc, known as the High Negotiations Committee, of which he is a member, would give the final answer.
Also on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he was concerned that the US-Russian plan would provide an advantage for government forces and their backers while being "indecisive" regarding the terms for the Syrian opposition.
The Syrian government said on Wednesday it was more "determined more than ever" to preserve Syria's unity after US Secretary of State John Kerry said it would be hard to hold the country together if the fighting did not stop.
Damascus was "determined today more than any time to crush terrorism and preserve the unity of Syria", according to a statement published by state media.
The United States and Russia announced Monday that a cessation of hostilities in Syria will go into effect this Saturday on February 27 – after a previous attempt for a ceasefire last Friday failed miserably.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been working with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to secure an agreement, welcomed the deal.
"If implemented and adhered to, this cessation will not only lead to a decline in violence, but also continue to expand the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to besieged areas and support a political transition to a government that is responsive to the desires of the Syrian people," Kerry said in a statement.