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Syrians praise Russian mediators’ role in reconciliation process

May 11, 2016, 8:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Two reconciliation agreements were signed in the Syrian provinces of Homs and Hama on Tuesday

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© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

AL-SAMRA /Syria/, May 11. /TASS/. A group of gunmen controlling the area near the village of al-Samra in Syria’s Hama province has joined the agreement on reconciliation and ceasefire and handed over its weapons to representatives of the Syrian government. The agreement brokered by the Russian Center for reconciliation of the warring parties was signed by the village’s elders, Hama Province Governor Ghassan Omar Khalaf and Chairman of the security commission in Hama General Muaffak Asaad, spokesman for the Russian reconciliation center Colonel Sergey Ivanov has told reporters.

According to the document, representatives of this populated locality must stop hostilities and ensure the work of the federal authorities and law enforcement agencies in the village. The villagers who previously took part in the fighting alongside the illegal armed groups handed over their weapons to the competent authorities and were able to return to civilian life.

"Much has been done to organize this event. The elders of Al-Samra village and representatives of the government authorities signed the agreement here," Ivanov said.

Before the signing of the agreement he addressed the villagers saying that Russia sees how much the Syrian government is doing to restore peaceful life in the country and provide its citizens with everything they need. Russia supports this process in every possible way. "People in Syria are born to work the land, trade and raise their children. The government fully assists them in this. We want the Syrian people to live in peace, harmony and teach their children," Ivanov added.

Muaffak Asaad pointed to a significant role played by the Russian mediators in promoting the reconciliation process in Syria and assured the villagers that the Syrian army would ensure security in Al-Samra and protect it from terror attacks. "We call on all citizens, residents of this village to return to their homes, to their land, to their work. We, on the part of the government, will do everything possible to ensure the village’s life, and the Syrian army will ensure your safety and protection," the general said.

Maner Hussein al-Hasan, one of the gunmen who laid down their arms, said he had fought alongside the Ahrar al-Sham group for two years. However, he realized that he had chosen the wrong path and decided to return to his family. "As for other militants in other units, I think they will follow our lead. They send signals that they will too soon return to peaceful life," the former gunmen said.

Number of settlements joining Syria reconciliation process reaches 99

According to the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, reconciliation agreements were signed with representatives of two settlements in the Syrian provinces of Homs and Hama onTuesday.

"The number of settlements joining the reconciliation process has reached 99," runs the bulletin posted on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website on Tuesday.

"An agreement on cessation of hostilities was signed with the field commander of an armed group in the province of Hama," the bulletin says.

According to the bulletin, the number of armed groups that have declared their commitment to the ceasefire terms remains unchanged has increased to 53.

A ceasefire regime brokered by Russia and the United States on February 22 officially came into effect in Syria at midnight Damascus time on February 27. This does not cover terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, both outlawed in Russia, and other groups recognized as terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.

An hour before the ceasefire came into force, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution in support cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document was initiated by Russia and the United States and won support from all the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council.

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