United Nations chief welcomes Astana agreements on Syria

Lucy Bush
May 6, 2017

Moscow, Beirut- States acting as guarantors in bolstering the ceasefire in Syria have signed a memorandum on four de-escalation zones proposed by Russian Federation during the fourth round of talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana on Thursday.

The opposition is protesting Iran's participation at the conference and role as a guarantor of the agreement, accusing it of fueling the sectarian nature of the conflict that has killed some 400,000 people and displaced half the country's population.

On Thursday, Russia, the top supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, won agreement for a comprehensive draft of a proposal that would pause fighting in four areas of the country, starting on Saturday, with worldwide troops acting as monitors to the cease-fire.

As a result, the guarantor countries agreed to sign a memorandum on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria.

But Nauert said that Washington "appreciated the efforts" of the other guarantors - Russian Federation and Turkey - to defuse the situation.

But Ramadan says the delegation will remain in Astana to discuss the cease-fire violations and present their questions about the safe zones proposal.

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Vladimir Putin is the only world political leader who really has seized the strategic high ground and initiative in Syria.

Both countries support Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

It remained unclear whether there would be any global monitoring of the safe zones.

"In light of the failures of past agreements", Nauert's statement said, "we have reason to be cautious".

The Syrian government said it would abide by the agreement but still fight "terrorism" - parlance for most rebel groups fighting government troops.

Turkey's foreign ministry said the zones would cover the whole of Idlib province, portions of the Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Homs provinces, as well as the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

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The exact boundaries of the proposed safe zones in Syria are yet to be defined but they are meant to focus on rebel-held territory.

The meeting at Putin's Black Sea residence coincides with Syria cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, co-sponsored by Russian Federation and Turkey.

De Mistura, quoted by spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric, said that this process must continue on the humanitarian issue.

Even if Iran is excluded, the proposal did not elaborate on how the opposition would be able to separate itself from what Moscow and Damascus deem "terrorist organizations", which the agreement said included the Nusra Front.

Russian official Alexander Lavrentyev suggested in peace talks on Friday that all military aircraft - including Russian and Turkish - would also be barred from the designated zones.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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