Syria gives Russia Aleppo ceasefire plan, wants prisoner swap

Reuters , Friday 17 Jan 2014

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem (L, front) walk into a hall before a meeting in Moscow, January 17, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Friday he had handed Russia plans for a ceasefire in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces on a possible prisoner swap.

Washington and Moscow have been trying to negotiate some confidence-building measures and allow humanitarian aid to flow in the nearly three-year-old civil war.

"I count on the success of this plan if all sides carry out their obligations," Moualem told a joint news conference in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a planned peace conference on Syria in Switzerland next week.

"We would like this to serve as an example to other towns," Moualem said of the plan for Aleppo.

Syrian rebels backed by Washington have agreed that if the government commits to such a partial ceasefire, they would abide by it, Washington has said.

Given the history of failed attempts to end the war, which has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions, it remains far from clear that even a partial ceasefire can be achieved or, if it is, can hold.

It also seems unlikely to be honoured by powerful militant Islamist rebel factions, some of whom are at war with both Damascus and other rebel groups backed by the West and Gulf states.

Moualem said Damascus had also put together a list of prisoners and was ready to take part in a prisoner exchange.

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