Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has called for parliamentary elections to be held on April 13, 2016.
Syria holds a general election every four years, with the previous vote taking place in 2012. At the same time a ceasefire deal has been agreed with the involvement of the United States and Russia.
Ceasefire agreed in Syria, with some notable exceptions
The agreed ceasefire will come into effect on Saturday, but will exclude those groups that the United Nations considers to be terrorists. On that list are the Islamic State, Nusra Front and others.
A joint statement was issued by the two countries, indicating that parties would express their commitment to the ceasefire to the U.S. and Russia by noon Friday Damascus time. The ceasefire will then go into effect at midnight.
The Syrian government and its allies will be expected to stop attacking armed opposition forces, and vice versa, with weapons such as rockets, anti-tank guided missiles and mortars.
Islamic State and other terrorist groups excluded from deal
The terms of the deal allow for continued airstrikes against IS, Nusra and other militant groups. However the situation on the ground is so complicated that even those groups who are part of the ceasefire could still come under attack.
“Military actions, including air strikes, of the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Armed Forces, and the U.S.-led Counter ISIL Coalition will continue against ISIL, ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’ (Nusra Front) and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council,” the joint statement said.
The areas that can still be attacked are those held by militant groups. The U.S., Russia and other nations will cooperate in order to define which areas these are.
Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called parliamentary elections amid ongoing chaos in the country, which has been ripped apart by civil war. The conflict has unleashed the largest wave of immigration to Europe that the world has seen since World War II, causing grave concern among European governments and consternation among the population.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has become a power broker in Syria following years in the international wilderness. Russia stepped into the conflict in support of long-term ally al-Assad and appears to have outmaneuvered the United States to wield greater influence in Syria.