UN chief 'encouraged' by deal on Syria safe zones

Russia Iran Turkey Adopt Plan for Security Zones in Syria

Russia Iran Turkey Adopt Plan for Security Zones in Syria

The State Department on Thursday expressed cautious optimism for a new plan put forward by Russia, Turkey and Iran to establish so-called de-escalation zones inside Syria to reduce the violence, raising concern about Tehran's role in the effort.

Iran and Russian Federation are the strongest backers of Mr Al Assad while Turkey is a supporter of opposition groups that have been trying to remove him from power.

The latest round of talks in Astana is sponsored by opposition supporter Turkey and Syrian government backers Russian Federation and Iran.

The Kazakhstan agreement calls for delineating zones where front lines between the Syrian government forces and the rebels would be frozen and fighting halted.

In Astana, where the three global powers are overseeing peace talks, the announcement caused a ruckus in the rebel delegation, with one top commander shouting, "See you on the battlefield!"

But Nauert says the USA has concerns, including about Iran's "guarantor" role in the deal. He also said the proposed zones would be no-fly areas if fighting on the ground there stopped entirely.

The Kremlin's plan echoes calls by USA leader Donald Trump to establish safe zones in Syria.

UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura called the agreement an "important, promising, positive step in the right direction in the process of de-escalation of the conflict".

"Over the past two days, the participants in the Astana talks reviewed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the cessation of hostilities", Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said of a frail truce brokered by Moscow and Ankara in December.

"Iran is a country that is killing the Syrian people and the killer can not be the rescuer", said Abu Osama Golani, an opposition commander who attended the Astana gathering.

The Syrian armed opposition said on Wednesday it had suspended its participation in the peace talks and demanded an end to government bombing of areas under its control.

On May 4, the de-escalation memorandum was signed in Astana by representatives of Turkey, Russia and Iran.

A Russian diplomat confirmed Friday that the terms would prevent the coalition from carrying out strikes in the zones. "The United Nations Security Council's permission is not necessary", he said.

Russian aircraft would "cease combat operations on this territory", he continued, but only if the opposition in the the de-escalation zones did not mount attacks to "destabilize the situation in the country's other territories".

Lavrentiev said Moscow was ready to send observers to monitor the zones, Russian news agencies reported.

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