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Syrian ceasefire would be announced 'in the coming hours'

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said a 15-day ceasefire near Syria's capital Damascus could be announced soon. The truce comes days after diplomats met in Vienna to seek an end to Syria's civil war.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday a 15-day ceasefire between Syrian rebels and government forces in Eastern Ghouta, an area near Syria's capital Damascus, would be announced "in the coming hours."

If agreed, the ceasefire would take place early on Thursday as a "test period" and could be extended if further agreements are made, the British-based Observatory said.

However, no agreement was made for the precise time for the start of the ceasefire, and an agreement has yet to be finalized, the Observatory said.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told the French news agency AFP, if an agreement is reached "a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta would begin at 6:00 a.m. (0400 UTC) Thursday and will last 15 days."

Abdel Rahman added that the most powerful rebel group in Eastern Ghouta, Jaish al-Islam, was the main negotiator on the rebel side. However, a spokesperson for the rebel group could not be reached for comment.

Days after Vienna meeting

The human rights group said that talks are likely being brokered by Russian or Iranian mediators.

A Syrian security source added that "our Russian allies are playing a direct role in contacting those that support the armed groups."

He added that "talks are ongoing between the government and a number of armed groups in Eastern Ghouta…to stop military operations."

The talks come just

days after top diplomats from 17 countries met in Vienna

to seek an end to the civil war in Syria which began in 2011, which has left more than 250,000 people dead and forced millions to flee. Fighting in the country remains ongoing.

News of the potential ceasefire spread quickly among the locals in Douma, one of the largest towns in Eastern Ghouta, where regime air strikes killed 117 people on October 30 and at least 70 others in another government attack.

smm/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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