Russia, Turkey, and Iran, have set up four specific safe zones in Syria, signing a UN agreement this week. The UN is describing it as a small step towards Syria stepping down from the brutal war that has been raging.
“The United States however gave an extremely cautious welcome, citing concerns over Iran’s role as a guarantor, even as it expressed hope that the deal could set the stage for a settlement,” reports Yahoo! News.
The idea of these “de-escalation” areas was set discussed on a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. The new deal will allow for aid to travel safely through, as well as a ban on all flights and a ceasefire.
Yahoo! News reports:
Several members of the rebel delegation left the room shouting in protest as the signing ceremony got underway in the Kazakh capital Astana, angry at regime ally Iran, an AFP reporter saw.
The plan for the “de-escalation areas” was discussed on Tuesday by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation.
The agreement provides for a ceasefire, a ban on all flights, rapid deliveries of humanitarian aid to the designated areas and the return of refugees.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “encouraged” by the breakthrough. He stressed it will be “crucial to see this agreement actually improve the lives of Syrians.”
Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, hope to build on a ceasefire deal they reached in December.
The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories to the deal.
“We are not supporting this agreement. It is an agreement between the three countries,” said Usama Abu Zeid, a rebel spokesman. “We do not at all agree that Iran… is a guarantor of this accord.”
– ‘Promising’ step –
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, described the agreement as “an important, promising, positive step in the right direction” toward de-escalation.
A working group will be set up within two weeks to resolve technical issues and the three countries agreed to set up the four areas by June 4.
The areas include key territory held by anti-Assad forces.
The first zone includes the whole of Idlib province along with certain parts of neighboring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces.
The second will encompass certain parts in the north of Homs province, and the third will be comprised of some areas of Eastern Ghouta, outside of Damascus.
The fourth zone will include parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces in southern Syria, according to the memorandum seen by AFP.