The Latest: Russia proposes new Syrian peace talks in Astana
Jun. 17, 2017
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
Russia has proposed July 4 as the start of a two-day round of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.
"We suggested these dates and it seems as if everyone has welcomed then," Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Saturday in remarks carried by the TASS news agency.
Russia, Turkey and Iran, who back opposing sides in Syria's brutal civil war, have brokered several rounds of peace talks in Astana this year, bringing together the Syrian government and rebel forces.
The July round of negotiations is expected to finalize details of so-called "safe zones" to be set-up in Syria.
Bogdanov said that Russia also expects progress to be made on Syria at a July 7 G20 summit in Germany.
The United Nations' special envoy for Syria says he plans a new round of peace talks in Geneva next month.
Staffan de Mistura's office said Saturday that the aim is for delegates to arrive in the Swiss city on July 9 and for talks — the seventh round so far — to start the following day. It didn't specify how long the round is expected to last.
It said that de Mistura plans to convene further rounds of talks in August and September.
The U.N.-hosted Geneva talks between parties to the conflict in Syria are the main political forum for efforts to end the six-year conflict.
The Iraqi military says it has captured a border crossing with Syria from the Islamic State group.
Tribal forces and border police, supported by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition aircraft, took part in the operation to take the al-Waleed crossing, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement Saturday.
Al-Waleed, in the far west of Iraq, fell to the Islamic State group in 2015, giving the militants full control of the Iraq-Syria border, which they vowed to erase as part of their ambition to build a caliphate.
In recent months the militants have been coming under increasing pressure in the country's western deserts from government forces.
The Syrian military has announced the cessation of all combat operations in the southern city of Daraa for 48 hours in support of national reconciliation.
The announcement Saturday comes days after the contested city witnessed some of the worst fighting in months amid fears by opposition activists that the government will try to take Daraa, where the country's civil war began in 2011.
In a statement, the army's General Command said that all combat operations will stop as of Saturday 12 p.m. (0900 GMT) for 48 hours.
A "de-escalation agreement" brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in May has not brought any relief to the city, activists said. The agreement covers four zones in Syria where the rebels are fighting pro-government forces.