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Senior Iranian, Russian security officials discuss Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A handout picture released on January 11, 2017 shows civilians living in the villages of the militant-held Wadi Barada area of rural Damascus waiting to have their documents checked by government officials before being granted safe passage out of the area.

Senior Iranian and Russian security officials have discussed the latest political, security, and military developments in the joint campaign against foreign-sponsored terrorism in Syria.

In telephone conversation on Monday evening, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev discussed the latest developments that have occurred following the establishment of a ceasefire in the Arab country.

The ceasefire deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, came into force at midnight (2200 GMT) on December 30, 2016, and has been largely holding despite clashes between government forces and terrorists in the Wadi Barada area, where water supplies for the capital, Damascus, are located and been cut or contaminated by the terrorists.

Iran has been offering Syria advisory military assistance, and Russia has been carrying out an aerial campaign against the militants in the country on a request from the Damascus government.

The ceasefire does not apply to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. Syrian soldiers and allied fighters from popular defense groups have been engaged in fierce fighting with Daesh militants in the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr.

Shamkhani and the secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF) also underlined the need for constant consultations between Tehran and Moscow in order to advance political initiatives for the resolution of the Syrian conflict.

The high-rankling officials further exchanged viewpoints on the mechanisms to enhance the Russo-Iranian campaign against Takfiri terrorism, particularly against al-Nusra Front and Daesh terrorist groups in Syria, and their full elimination.

The telephone conversation came as Iranian, Russian, and Syrian political, military, and security officials have intensified negotiations in the run-up to forthcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, which aims to end the nearly six-year-old Syrian conflict.

Foreign-sponsored militant groups decided on Monday to attend the Astana talks, which are scheduled for January 23 and would focus strictly on military developments and reinforcing the ceasefire agreement that is in place.

The Astana peace talks come ahead of the next round of UN-brokered political negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva on February 8.

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