Russia: Syria deal bans US-led coalition aircraft

May 06, 2017, 02:12
Russia: Syria deal bans US-led coalition aircraft

Russia expects Turkey to encourage the Syrian opposition to abide by the memorandum on de-escalation zones signed by the three guarantor countries on Thursday, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters on Friday.

The Kremlin's plan is similar to calls by U.S. President Donald Trump for "safe zones" in Syria, and Putin said Trump seemed to support the idea when the leaders talked Tuesday by phone.

The Russian diplomat added that some technical aspects needed to be clarified that concern the monitoring of the memorandum's implementation and the possibility to use aircraft in the de-escalation zones.

Iran, Russia and Turkey have agreed on a plan to create safe zones in Syria with the aim of alleviating civilian hardship. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday ways to monitor the zones would be an issue for separate talks. But the full details of the proposal were not made available and prospects for its success appeared bleak.

The Syrian opposition has suspended their participation in the talks because they object to Iran's being a signatory to the agreement, as "they are aggressors".

The zones, which may be expanded to include other locations, cover areas inhabited by about 2.7 million people, he said.

The walkout and the comments underline the huge difficulties of implementing such a deal. The agreement said "the parties agreed to take all necessary measures to continue the fight" against designated terrorist groups "within and outside" the zones.

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A previous cease-fire agreement signed in Astana on December 30 helped reduce overall violence for several weeks but eventually collapsed.

The safety zone initiative is the latest attempt by Moscow to forge an end to the six-year conflict after its military might turned the tide of the conflict in favour of Assad. But officials have expressed skepticism, stressing that safe zones have not had an encouraging track record. The US says it is also sceptical about Iran's involvement.

Russia, Turkey and Iran did not immediately publish the memorandum, leaving its details unclear.

But the Pentagon said the de-escalation agreement will not affect the US -led air campaign against the Islamic State group. Opposition representatives distanced themselves from the plan, saying they can't accept Iran as a guarantor of the truce and that they want "clear and tangible" guarantees the deal will be enforced.

Also on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the memorandum.

Along with Mr. Trump, the presidents of Russian Federation and Turkey have recently supported the idea of creating safe zones in Syria.