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Nine settlements in Syria join national reconciliation process in Hama province

March 17, 2016, 8:28 UTC+3

Self-defense forces do not hand over arms in the framework of the ceasefire regime because they are formed to prevent any influence on residents by terrorist organizations

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A landscape in the Hama province

A landscape in the Hama province

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

AYN-ELBET (Syria), March 17. /TASS/. Nine settlements in Syria's Hama province have signed agreements on joining the process of national reconciliation and ceasefire regime, head of the reconciliation group in Hama Lt. Col. German Rudenko told reporters on Thursday.

"Today’s event was attended by elders, leaders of tribal communities. They signed the agreement on joining the ceasefire regime by nine settlements with total population of around 10,000 people," Rudenko said.

He noted that elders agreed for the state authorities to return to their settlements and assist the Syrian government in any possible way at peace negotiations. They also agreed to promote laying down arms and returning to peaceful life among their fellow countrymen on the other side barricades.

"Participants in the negotiations first of all expect social guarantees from the authorities. Many of them have no income or access to medicine. They are waiting for restoration of basic utilities and infrastructure," Rudenko went on.

Syria’s MP Sheikh Marwan al-Asad, who signed one of the application lists, noted the importance of joining the ceasefire regime by the settlements located close to the contact line with militant groups. "I represent the eastern part of this region. My settlements are located in 30 kilometers from the contact line with armed militant groups. We are grateful to Russia and everyone else who helped made our land safer. This is very important for us as we leave in close proximity from terrorist strongholds," he said.

Sheikh Marwan al-Asad noted that residents of the settlements he represents were forced to leave their houses when terrorists from other countries came and thanked Syrian President Bashar Assad for helping to oust them. He also thanked Russia "for the peace initiative from which we all benefit."

"I hope that today’s gathering will become an example for new settlements that will want to embark on the path of reconciliation," he concluded.

German Rudenko also noted  that thirty-eight settlements in the Syrian province of Hama have signed the application lists to join the ceasefire regime in the country, and 10 more requests were received over the last week

"Taking into account today’s settlement, already 38 villages have signed application lists to join the ceasefire regime. Some residents of these settlements took part in the activities of opposition groups, but the absolute majority of the population called for them to lay down arms and return to peaceful life," Rudenko said.

He added that after the big people’s gathering last week in the capital of the Hama province, the population and its leaders have significantly stepped up their activities, and more than 10 requests for joining the ceasefire have been received over the last week.

The military official also noted that self-defense forces do not hand over arms in the framework of the ceasefire regime because they are formed to prevent any influence on residents by terrorist organizations. The self-defense forces fall under the jurisdiction of local security committees.

The ceasefire between government forces and armed opposition took effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27. An hour before the agreement entered into force, UN Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria. The inter-Syrian talks resumed in Geneva on March 9.

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