Moscow has welcomed a decision by the Syrian government to establish a ceasefire in Idlib if the Sochi agreements are adhered to, Russia’s special envoy for Syria Aleksandr Lavrentyev has said.

“The ball is not just in the court of the moderate opposition forces, which, unfortunately, control a minor part of the Idlib de-escalation zone,” TASS quoted the envoy as saying on Thursday.

“According to our estimates, 90 percent of the territory remains under the control of terrorist organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra) and those affiliated with it,” he added.

The ceasefire announced on state media is conditional on the rebels retreating 20km (12.5 miles) deep and away from demilitarized areas. Damascus’ declaration comes as a new round of talks sponsored by Russia began on Thursday in the Kazakh capital, attended by Iran, Turkey and other sides.

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