Russian Federation begins plan to 'de-escalate' Syrian war

Cheryl Sanders
May 8, 2017

The agreement would create four cease-fire zones in northern Syria where fighting would stop by Saturday to provide civilians a place to gather to escape the violence and receive food and medical attention.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said "the operation of aviation in the de-escalation zones, especially of the forces of the global coalition, is absolutely not envisaged, either with notification or without".

TRT World's Abubakr al Shamahi brings the latest.

The de-escalation zones are the latest global attempt to reduce violence in the war-ravaged country, and represent the first effort to envisage armed foreign monitors on the ground in Syria. A State Department envoy was at the talks in Kazakhstan where the deal was reached, though the United States was not one of the signers of the agreement.

But the main Syrian opposition grouping says it has little faith in the deal.

Instead, Russia announced that the safe zones, which went into effect overnight, are now officially closed to all warplanes, and United States officials are livid at the idea, insisting they have no intention of respecting that.

Fighting between Syrian rebel and government forces eased on Saturday as a Russian-led effort to shore up a ceasefire took effect, although battles continued on an important frontline near Hama, a rebel commander and war monitor said.

The three governments agreed to the plan during a meeting on Friday in Kazakhstan, where peace talks in the capital of Astana have been ongoing.

The Syrian government and rebel groups are not signatories to the agreement, but state news agency SANA said Damascus supports the plan.

On Thursday evening during the Astana talks, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum on the creation of four or more safe zones in Syria.

However, some factions of the Syrian opposition announced it would not accept it, saying the pact threatens Syria's territorial integrity.

"De-escalation zones" set up in a deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran in mostly opposition-held parts of Syria have gone into effect.

The Russian statements could also signal an effort to limit USA strikes against Syrian government forces, like the one carried out in retaliation for a chemical attack last month.

"Despite some violations the situation is much calmer than before", said opposition activist Mohammed al-Homsi, speaking via Skype from northern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there had been a reduction in fighting across Syria since the deal came into force, but warned it was too early to say whether it would last. It was not immediately clear if the fighters were members of the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee that is usually excluded from cease-fires.

There were no immediate reports of casualties after the plan - sponsored by Russia, Turkey, and Iran - went into effect at midnight.

"We express the confidence that after such a statement, the flights by Syrian combat aircraft and their operation on the territory of de-escalation zones will cease", Lavrentyev said, according to TASS.

The Pentagon says the de-escalation agreement will not affect the US -led air campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Pentagon said the de-escalation agreement would not affect the US-led air campaign against IS.

Dunford and Gerazimov also discussed the new ceasefire plan and "both also agreed to maintain regular contact", Hicks said.

Other reports by iNewsToday