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Syrian government forces seize control of 21 settlements in 24 hours

On Tuesday, the reconciliation center announced that 124 populated localities had been liberated from terrorists

MOSCOW, March 8. /TASS/. Syrian government forces have seized control of 21 populated localities over the past 24 hours, liberating them from militants of the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia), the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria said on Wednesday.

"The number of populated localities liberated by the Syrian government forces from armed units of the Islamic State international terrorist organization has increased to 145. Over the past 24 hours, government forces regained control over 83.6 square kilometers. Overall, 2,907.7 square kilometers have been liberated since January 1, 2017," the center said in a daily news bulletin released on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the reconciliation center announced that 124 populated localities had been liberated from terrorists.

The cessation of hostilities agreements were signed with 14 more settlements. The number of populated localities that joined the reconciliation process in Syria has increased to 1,333.

"Negotiations to join the cessation of hostilities agreement are still underway with units of armed opposition in the regions of Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Quneitra. Over the past 24 hours, eight applications have been signed. The number of armed groups that pledged their commitment to accepting and fulfilling the conditions of a cessation of hostilities in line with the ceasefire agreement of 27 February 2016 has increased to 135," Russian army officers said.

The Russian reconciliation center said that Russian army officers registered 13 violations of the nationwide ceasefire in the regions of Hama (5), Latakia (4), Damascus (3) and Idlib (1) over the past 24 hours. Turkish counterparts reported about 14 breaches in the regions of Aleppo (7), Damascus (5) and Latakia (2).

"Looking into these facts, Russian officers established that all the 14 cases are not confirmed," the bulletin says.

The nationwide ceasefire came into force on 30 December 2016 in line with the truce deal sealed in an effort to find a complex solution to the Syria crisis. Syrian government forces and groups of armed opposition with an overall strength of more than 60,000 have agreed to the ceasefire. Russia and Turkey act as its guarantors. Ceasefire does not cover terrorist groups, such as Islamic State.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared the establishment of the reconciliation center on 23 February 2016. It is headquartered at the Hmeimim air base, Latakia province. The center was set up in line with agreements reached by Russia and the United States to facilitate the negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition and to organize humanitarian deliveries.