Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed on safe zones in Syria

  • Dominika Jandová
  • 6.5.2017 15:59

Iran and Turkey agreed on Thursday 4 May to Russia's proposal to establish the four de-escalation zones where fighting between Syrian government forces and the rebels is supposed to stop. An agreement came into effect at midnight on Friday but more details remain unknown.

The largest zone is in northern Syria and includes the Idlib province and adjoining districts of Latakia, Aleppo and Hama with the population of over a million people. Russian air force, however, will continue strikes against the Islamic State’s positions. According to Moscow, the agreement is supported by the UN, Saudi Arabia and the United States, who however remain sceptical due to Iran’s role. Tensions between the US and Russia were eased by a phone call between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, after their initial increase in April due to the US air strike in Syria. However, on Friday 5 May Russian news agencies quoted Russian envoy Lavrentyev as saying that the zones will be closed for military planes of the international US-led coalition The Syrian government stated its support for the creation of the safe zones but had not signed the agreement and still intends to fight against terrorist groups, in which they also include the rebels. The rebels rejected the deal and said they would not recognise Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire plan, and also doubt that these statements will stop the bombing assaults in rebel-controlled areas. The Kurdish PYD does not agree with the arrangement either. On Wednesday 3 May Syrian opposition suspended its participation in the peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, as a protest against government bombings of rebel-controlled areas, but, as expected, returned to the negotiations the next day.

Fighting still continues in several places in Syria and on several fronts. In Eastern Ghouta, outskirts of Damascus, the days-long fighting of the armed group Jaish al-Islam, al-Rahman Corps and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham caused the deaths of at least 143 fighters and civilians. Another 30 people were killed on Tuesday during the IS attack on a camp for displaced persons near the town of Shaddadi in Hassakeh province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 2700 people were killed in Syria just in April, almost half of them during Russian and Syrian government airstrikes in different parts of the country.

On Wednesday 3 May, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey will continue to take measures against threats from its southern borders with Syria and Iraq and repeatedly criticised the US for their support of the YPG in the fight against the IS. Kurdish forces announced on Tuesday, that they have regained control over 90 % of the city of Tabqa in the Syrian province of Raqqa.

About author: Dominika Jandová

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