TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew to Switzerland on Saturday morning to join his US and Russian counterparts and top diplomats from the UN and regional powers for talks on the settlement of a crisis that has plagued Syria for more than five years.

The Iranian minister is accompanied by his deputy for Arab and African Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, in the visit to Switzerland.

Iran’s involvement in the Lausanne talks comes as a surprise, one day after an informed source at the Foreign Ministry dismissed reports of Zarif’s attendance in the negotiations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, as well as top diplomats from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar take part in the Lausanne talks.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said that a key aim of the Lausanne meeting is to get countries that support "moderate" opposition groups to use their influence to work for a new ceasefire.

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), currently controlling parts of it.

Some 470,000 Syrians have been killed throughout the five years of bloodshed, 4.8 million have fled the country, and 6.6 million have become internally displaced by the violence.