By John Bacon, USA Today–

Russia, Turkey and Iran announced a deal Tuesday aimed at solidifying a wobbly cease-fire in Syria and urged the Syrian opposition to take part in U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at developing a long-term political solution to the crisis.

The three nations issued a joint statement at the conclusion of two days of discussions they sponsored in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and rebel groups. The U.N.-sponsored talks are scheduled to begin Feb. 8 in Geneva.

The statement said the three nations will seek to minimize violations and ensure unhindered humanitarian access. They also agreed to to fight jointly against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The three countries stressed a position often expressed by the U.S. — that there can be no military solution to the Syrian crisis and that a resolution can come only through negotiation.

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja’afari, his government’s envoy at the summit, on Tuesday expressed support for the three-nation statement. But he also said Syrian government forces will continue an offensive in areas around Damascus where he claimed rebel groups were attempting to cut off the city’s water supply, the Associated Press reported.

Mohammed Alloush, who is heading the opposition delegation, said the Syrian opposition will not engage in any talks with Iran. He said that he had given a proposal to Russia on the cease-fire, and expects an answer within a week, the Russian news agency RT reported.

The Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and the rebel militants working to oust him began the latest round of talks Monday aimed at solidifying the cease-fire and easing the humanitarian crisis that has dragged on for much of the six-year civil war.

The talks got off to a rocky start after Ja’afari labeled rebel leader Alloush’s support for rebel efforts around Damascus as “provocative” and “insolent” and accused the rebel delegation of representing “terrorist-armed groups.”

Alloush also expressed a theme heard repeatedly in Washington — that Assad must give up power. The government’s recent military gains, including routing rebels from their stronghold in Aleppo, have strengthened his grip on the war-battered nation.

The Trump administration declined an invitation to the talks, citing the “demands of the transition,” the State Department said. However, the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, George Krol, attended as an observer.

Russia, Turkey and Iran initially brokered the cease-fire that began Dec. 30. Russia and Iran support Assad’s regime while Turkey backs most of the rebel groups supported by the U.S. Turkey has expressed outrage at U.S. officials, however, for supporting Kurdish rebels who have joined with the rebels. Turkey has been involved in a long-running struggle with Kurdish separatists and views the Kurdish groups as terrorists.