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Damascus Signals Support For Cease-Fire Deal; Opposition Wary

The Foreign Ministry in Damascus says that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accepted a cease-fire deal brokered by the United States and Russia, but has warned that the regime will consider the truce to be violated if armed groups use it to strengthen their positions.

The truce, which does not apply to Islamic State militants or the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, is due to begin on February 27 at midnight local time.

Syria's main moderate opposition groups, meeting for a second day in Riyadh on February 23 as part of the High Negotiations Committee, have been cautious about the planned truce.

The High Negotiations Committee said it "agreed to respond positively to international efforts to reach a truce deal."

But the opposition umbrella group said its "commitment to the truce is conditional" on the lifting of sieges by government forces, an end to attacks on civilians in Syria, the freeing of prisoners by Damascus, and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP