Assad Approves U.S.-Russia Plan to End Syrian War

The agreement, slated to take effect Monday, 'was reached with the full knowledge of the Syrian government,' state-run news agency reports.

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Smoke rises over Saif Al Dawla district, in Aleppo, Syria, in 2012.
Smoke rises over Saif Al Dawla district, in Aleppo, Syria, in 2012.Credit: Manu Brabo, AP

The Syrian government has approved the agreement between Russia and the U.S. that includes a cessation of hostilities, the state-run Syrian news agency SANA reported on Saturday.

"The whole agreement was reached with full knowledge of the Syrian government that has approved it," the agency said. It quoted what it described as well-informed sources, but without identifying them.

The United States and Russia early Saturday announced a breakthrough agreement on Syria that foresees a nationwide cease-fire starting on Monday.

After a daylong final negotiating session in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the plan could reduce violence in Syria and lead to a long-sought political transition, ending more than five years of bloodshed.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks in Damascus, Syria, June 7, 2016. Credit: SANA / AP

He called the deal a potential "turning point" in a conflict that has killed as many as 500,000 people, if complied with by Syria's Russian-backed government and U.S.-supported rebel groups.

Kerry's negotiating partner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, confirmed the agreement and said it could help expand the counterterrorism fight and aid deliveries to Syrian civilians. He said Syrian President Bashar Assad's government was informed of the accord, and prepared to comply.

Hours after the breakthrough agreement was announced, Syria's army attacked rebel-held ares in Aleppo, as the military pushed to maximize gains before the cease-fire kicks in. Insurgents said they were planning a counter-offensive.

Meanwhile, at least 25 people, including women and children, were killed when jets struck a busy market place in the rebel-held city of Idlib. Rescue workers and a resident say they suspect the jets were Russian, which they said can be identified by their high altitude flying in sorties, unlike Syrian helicopters that hit at lower altitudes. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by phone with Kerry on Saturday and told him that Turkey welcomes a U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement for Syria, according to a statement published by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkey, which launched its first major military incursion into Syria two and half weeks ago, has said it is preparing to provide humanitarian aid to the northern city of Aleppo in conjunction with the United Nations following the deal.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.