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>> Live's still being claimed in Syria's seven-year war, but a Russia backed ceasefire in rebel held parts of Damascus was broadly holding on Wednesday. That as talks in Geneva try yet again to find a peace deal. As Reuters Moscow bureau chief, Christian Lowe, says, all eyes are on Russia.
>> If you want a sense of how big Russia's role is in Syria, you just have to look at the travel plans of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Since the conflict in Syria began, as far as we know, he's traveled outside the country twice. On both occasions it was to go to Russia for meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is the single biggest factor that's turned the tide of the conflict in Syria.>> No one thinks a deal will be easy, with much of Syria still fiercely contested. Moscow and its allies have made considerable territorial gains over the last year. But the northeast is controlled by the US-backed Kurdish forces.
Islamic State, having suffered heavy defeat, still controls pockets of land. And Syrian rebel forces have their stronghold in the northwest. The Syrian Army controls these areas, helped by Russian missile launchers from the Caspian Sea. Russian forces also conducting air strikes from bases at home and in Syria. Sources telling Reuters that Russian forces and private contractors are also fighting on the ground alongside the Syrian Army.
Now Moscow is trying to move on from fighting to brokering peace.>> So the Russian focus at the moment is on convening what they're calling a Congress of Syrian peoples, where they bring together all the rival ethnic groups and other groups inside Syria and try and get them to do a deal.
>> If peace ever does arrive, the next sticking point is what role Bashar Al-Assad will play. He's determined to stay on, but opponents say he will have to go as the price of any deal. There's little sign that Russia or the UN has a solution that'll keep both sides happy.