Russia to restore Syria air coordination with US

Miranda GreerMay 06, 2017

Syrian regime allies Russian Federation and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey on Thursday signed a memorandum on a Moscow-backed plan to create safe zones in Syria to bolster a fragile truce.

Yet, the de-escalation zones agreement was not signed by the Syrian government, nor the opposition.

According to the accord, checkpoints will ensure the safe flow of humanitarian aid and provide secure passage for civilians.

The first and the largest safe zone in northern Syria will include the Idlib province and adjoining districts of Latakia, Aleppo and Hama.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, as he leaves after their meeting in Putin's residence in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

The Russian president claims he can enable the ceasefire brokered in Astana some weeks ago, which now is an abject failure, by creating no-fly zones with the Russian, Turkish, Iranian and United States militaries protecting safe zones on the ground.

He is in Astana as an observer to the latest round of the Astana talks aimed to bolster the ceasefire regime brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran in late December 2016.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said that next Syria peace talks would be held in Astana in mid-July.

Under the agreement, the Syrian government and the Russians would cease flying over the zones for six months unless there are what Russian representative Alexander Lavrentyev described as "attempts to destabilize the situation". Observation points will monitor the cease-fire in the region.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are to enforce the zones, but Russian general staff official Sergei Rudskoi said that other countries could participate. He spoke at a press conference shortly after delegations of the three sponsor nations signed the agreement in the presence of de Mistura.

Ten days after signing the memorandum, the guarantor states will establish a joint working group, in particular for designating the borders of de-escalation and security zones. Washington, in particular, took part in discussing them in Astana and then hailed the memorandum.

Under the plan, Damascus and the militant groups, which are party to the Syria-wide truce, will stop all clashes and the use of any kinds of weapons in the security zones.

Russia, Turkey and Iran act as guarantors of the Astana peace process.

SDF has been on the offensive in Tabqa since mid-April.

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