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Summary

  1. The ceasefire is due to come into force at midnight (22:00 GMT) Thursday
  2. It is between Syria's military and most rebel groups
  3. Russia's President Putin announced the deal
  4. Turkey, Syria's government and a rebel spokesman have confirmed it
  5. Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides, are to act as guarantors

Live Reporting

By Nalina Eggert, Rebecca Seales, Mal Siret and Tom Geoghegan

All times stated are UK

  1. To sum up...

    Thanks for following our live page on the ceasefire deal agreed on 29 December 2016.

    We're wrapping up now, but here are the key points:

    • A ceasefire agreed between the Syrian government and most rebel groups will come into force at midnight (22:00 GMT)
    • It will be guaranteed by Russia and Turkey, who back opposing sides in the conflict
    • Russia is expected to withdraw troops but keep a presence at an air base and a naval facility in Syria
    • The UN's special envoy for Syria says he hopes the deal will save civilian lives
    • Peace talks are due to take place in the next month in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana
    • But several groups who are fighting in the region - the Kurdish YPG militia, the jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the so-called Islamic State - are not included in the deal
    • And the US has not been involved in brokering it
    • Previous ceasefires have fallen apart
    • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said European countries should "stop supporting terrorists" - meaning rebel groups in the opposition

    Need more?

    This multimedia story - produced in March when the conflict had been running for five years - does a good job of breaking down the three stages of the war, from shootings to mortar fire to air strikes.

    Why is there a war in Syria? takes you through the causes of the conflict, the various international parties who have got involved, and some of the reasons why it has lasted so long.

    And here's our main story on the ceasefire.

  2. Syria opposition welcomes truce

    The Syrian National Coalition has released a statement welcoming the deal, seen by Reuters news agency.

    The Coalition said the Free Syrian Army, a loose alliance of rebel groups, was committed to the truce and urged all sides to work for its success.

    Ahmad Ramadan from the group told the Associated Press via text message that the Free Syrian Army would retaliate if the government and allied forces violated the ceasefire.

    Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that another spokesman, Osama Abu Zeid, has told reporters in Turkey that 13 armed opposition factions have signed the agreement - not including so-called Islamic State or the main Kurdish militia, the YPG.

    He said upcoming talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, would pave the way for a new governing body, not including President Bashar al-Assad, to rule Syria through a transitional period.

  3. Assad says Europe must 'stop supporting terrorists'

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an exclusive interview with AFP in the capital Damascus on February 11, 2016.
    Image caption: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the "military" fight against "terrorism" is "going well" thanks to Russia's support

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has said that the best help European countries could offer Syria would be to "stop supporting terrorists", stressing that the "solution... is in the hands of the people of Syria". 

    "Through its support for Syria, Russia is not only defending Syrians' security but also that of its own people, as well as the people of Europe," Mr Assad reportedly said.

    He added that "western officials must acknowledge that the terrorist attacks which their countries face are a result of their wrong policies".

    Syrian state news agency SANA said his comments came during a meeting with members of the European Parliament and Russian Federal Assembly.

  4. UN envoy hopes deal will save civilian lives

    Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, speaks about the International Syria Support Group"s Humanitarian Access Task Force, at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, 22 December 2016. De Mistura called on warring parties to establish a ceasefire in order to avoid a "next Aleppo
    Image caption: Staffan de Mistura, pictured here earlier this month, has repeatedly called for ceasefire in Syria

    The UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says he hopes the ceasefire starting tonight will save civilian lives.

    So far in the country's five-year-long conflict, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed.

    Reuters reports that Mr de Mistura hopes the ceasefire deal will mean humanitarian aid can be delivered, and that negotiations between players in the conflict will be "inclusive and productive".

  5. Russia 'to co-ordinate with Turkey and Iran'

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has held separate telephone conversations with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammad Zarif, the Russian foreign ministry says.

    Between them, they agreed to co-ordinate efforts on the deal. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura will also be involved. 

  6. Aleppo mum tweets 'Yeeeeees ceasefire is agreed'

    Fatemah Alabed, who tweeted from the besieged city Aleppo with her seven-year-old daughter Bana, posted about the ceasefire news, writing, "let's hope it goes far". 

    English-speaking Fatemah, who calls herself a "global peace activist" has shared a Twitter handle - @AlabedBana - with her daughter since September. However, earlier today a tweet was posted from this account announcing that Fatemah will now post separately at @FatemahAlabed.

    Though several fake accounts have been set up impersonating Bana and her mother, the original account follows @FatemahAlabed on Twitter and has linked to it, suggesting it is genuine. 

    Fatemah and Bana were evacuated from Aleppo earlier this month.

  7. Kurdish YPG 'not included' in deal

    A female rebel fighter of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) holds a weapon in the Sheikh Maqsud neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on May 9, 2013

    A rebel spokesman has said the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) are not included in the ceasefire deal.

    The YPG, considered one of the most effective forces in the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS), is backed by the US-led coalition against IS. But Turkey considers it a terrorist group.

    Earlier this year, Turkey announced it had removed the YPG from the length of its border with Syria. It also regards a related Kurdish political party in Syria to be a terrorist group, and it has banned Turkey's Kurdish political party - the PKK - in Turkey.

    The Kurds are an ethnic group numbering up to 35 million people, who live in several countries in the region. Some of them have pushed for greater autonomy.

    Read more on Turkey vs the Kurds vs Islamic State

  8. Ceasefire 'does not include IS'

    So-called Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria
    Image caption: So-called Islamic State have controlled large swathes of Syria

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a phone call that a ceasefire deal in Syria would not extend to "terrorist groups", including so-called Islamic State (IS), the Kremlin says.

    Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier said that any armed groups in Syria that did not observe the truce would be regarded as "terrorists".

  9. Who has signed up?

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin says three documents have been signed:

    1. An agreement between the Syrian government and the armed opposition on a ceasefire
    2. A document concerning measures for overseeing the ceasefire
    3. An agreement to start peace talks

    The Russian defence ministry has published a list of groups (in Russian) which it says have agreed to support today's ceasefire deal.

    They are:

    • Faylaq al-Sham
    • Ahrar al-Sham
    • Jaysh al-Islam 
    • Thuwwar Ahl al-Sham 
    • Jaysh al-Mujahidin 
    • Jaysh Idlib    
    • Al-Jabhah al-Shamiyah

    Read more about the various groups that make up Syria's fractured opposition here.

  10. More on the upcoming peace talks

    The AP news agency reports that the Syrian opposition will be given the right to name its own delegation to peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. 

    It says the talks are due to take place within a month. 

    Under a UN resolution from 2015, the talks should lead to parliamentary and presidential elections within 18 months.

  11. Putin: Agreement is 'fragile'

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has described today's ceasefire agreement as "fragile".

    He said his country's military would scale down its presence in Syria but did not say how many troops and weapons would be withdrawn.

    He said Russia would keep "fighting international terrorism in Syria" and would keep a military presence at its air base and naval facility, in Latakia and Tartus respectively.

    Quote Message: The agreements reached are of course fragile and need special attention and involvement for their preservation and development. But nevertheless, this is a notable result of our joint work and efforts by the defence and foreign ministries and our partners in the region. from President Putin
    President Putin
  12. Deal guarantors: Russia and Turkey

    Russia backs the Syrian government in the war, while Turkey backs some of the anti-government rebels.

    The countries said they would act as guarantors of the ceasefire between the two sides.

    A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters news agency that he and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, spoke on the phone about the deal and about upcoming talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) meets with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 29 December 2016. During the meeting Sergei Shoigu said that the truce in Syria would take effect at midnight on 30 December 2016.
    Image caption: President Putin (C) met Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) in the Kremlin.
    Turkey"s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses during an award ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Turkey on Thursday rejected Washington"s denials that it has provided weapons to a Syrian Kurdish militia force which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group and again complained about a lack of support from the U.S.-led coalition to its offensive against the Islamic State group in northern Syria
    Image caption: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he discussed the ceasefire agreement with Mr Putin on the phone
  13. Why is there a war in Syria?

    US-led coalition air strike on the northern Syrian town of Kobane, 2014
    Image caption: US-led coalition air strike on the northern Syrian town of Kobane, 2014

    The civil war in Syria has left more than 250,000 people dead, according to the UN, and more than 4.8 million people - most of them women and children - displaced.  

    • It began five years ago after a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad turned violent.
    • The violence rapidly escalated as hundreds of rebel brigades formed to battle government forces for control of the country. 
    • Divisions within Syria led to the intervention of regional and world powers, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US. 
    • Jihadist groups also seized on the divisions. These groups included Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formally al-Nusra Front) and so-called Islamic State (IS), which controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria.
    • Thousands of Shia militiamen from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen joined the fighting alongside the Syrian army to protect holy sites.
    • Other outside powers got involved - including the US, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, France and the UK
    • Russia, for whom President Assad's survival is critical to maintaining its interests in Syria, launched an air campaign in September 2015 with the aim of "stabilising" the government. 
    • Intense Russian air and missile strikes went on to play a major role in the government's siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which fell in December 2016.

    Read about the conflict here

  14. Is Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in or out?

    According to the countries backing today's agreement, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group (formerly known as the Nusra Front) is not included. 

    But the BBC's Richard Galpin reports that one rebel official disputes this.

    The official in question says the group is, in fact, one of those included in the ceasefire deal.

    Nobody has yet disputed that so-called Islamic State is outside the deal.

    There are myriad rebel groups in Syria - officials in Moscow say tens of thousands of fighters have signed up to the deal, which includes a commitment to take part in peace talks.

    Jabhat Fateh al-Sham used to be linked to al-Qaeda but reportedly detached itself earlier this year.

  15. What Putin has done in Syria

    Russia entered the Syrian conflict more than a year ago, at a point in the war when government forces were thought to be at the point of collapse.

    The effect of Putin's backing has been hugely significant, writes the BBC's Jonathan Marcus.  

    "While it is Russian air power that has been the main focus of news reporting on the Russian intervention, it is as much the intensified training and re-equipping of the Syrian army that has also been a crucial factor in helping to turn around President Assad's fortunes." 

    Read more about Putin's Syria strategy

    Russian jets on the deck of an aircraft carrier near Syria
    Image caption: Russian jets on the deck of an aircraft carrier near Syria
  16. Which groups will be covered by deal?

    The BBC's Selin Girit in Istanbul reports:

    The statement from Turkey’s foreign ministry suggested that groups such as so-called Islamic State or Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known the Nusra Front) would be excluded from the ceasefire deal. 

    However, there seems to be disagreement on which groups are left out.

    Foreign Minister Cavusoglu earlier mentioned that foreign fighter groups, including Hezbollah, needed to leave Syria as well - which will not sit well with Iran, a major backer of the Assad regime along with Russia.

    Whether Ankara is prepared to give up on its long-term goal of ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is also an issue that could complicate negotiations with Russia.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry also emphasised that it is crucial for all states with influence over the groups in Syria to comply with and to support the ceasefire.

    That could be seen as an obvious call to Washington, among others.

  17. The Turkey-Russia deal - without the US

    It's not the first time that Moscow and Ankara have negotiated a ceasefire in Syria.

    Last month they hatched a deal that led to tens of thousands of rebel fighters and civilians being evacuated from an enclave in Aleppo under siege by government forces.

    Previous ceasefire initiatives this year brokered by the UN, or the US acting with Russia, swiftly fell apart.

    The omission of the US from the recent talks in Moscow sparked criticism in the US media over President Obama's leadership.

    Buses and ambulances leave Aleppo carrying soldiers and civilians
    Image caption: Buses and ambulances leave Aleppo carrying soldiers and civilians
  18. BreakingKey Syrian rebel group backs ceasefire

    The main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, says it supports the ceasefire.

    Air strikes and shelling will halt under the terms of the deal, said spokesman Ahmad Ramadan. 

    Moderate rebel groups will keep the truce, he said, but they will retaliate if attacked.

  19. How many Russian troops will leave Syria?

    It is unclear what quantity of Russian troops and arms will be withdrawn from the conflict, even if the ceasefire holds.

    President Putin said Russia will continue "fighting international terrorism in Syria" and supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    The Russian military will keep a presence at an air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus. 

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Egypt would be invited to join peace negotiations in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan

    Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan could eventually join the talks too, he added. 

  20. Turkey and Russia as guarantors

    Turkey's foreign ministry has said Ankara will work with Moscow on supervising the ceasefire agreement.

    The deal excludes groups deemed as terrorists by the UN Security Council, a statement said.

    "With this agreement, parties have agreed to cease all armed attacks, including aerial, and have promised not to expand the areas they control against each other."

    Turkey and Russia have backed different sides in the conflict.

    A Turkish military truck carries weaponry near Syrian border
    Image caption: A Turkish military truck carries weaponry near Syrian border