Russia: Syrian Safe Zones Plan to Take Effect at Midnight

Map locates the four Russian-proposed safe zones across Syria 2c x 4 1/2 inches 96.3 mm x 114

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday his country would reject any role by the United Nations in monitoring "de-escalation" zones.

"We do not accept a role for the United Nations or global forces to monitor the agreement", said Moallem, adding that "the Syrian army will be prepared to respond in a decisive manner" should there be violations of this decree.

"There have been some outcomes which we find extremely potentially promising", de Mistura said, referring to the ceasefire and de-escalation zones memorandum signed by guarantors Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Kazakh capital. "The Russian guarantor has clarified that there will be military police and observation centers".

The May 4 agreement calls for the creation of four "de-escalation zones" to shore up a ceasefire, ban flights and allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid.

"And we've been looking, for a long time, how to bring this one to an end", Mattis said of the fighting that has been raging since 2011 and killed more than 400,000 people.

Alexander Lavrentyev's comments Friday come a day after talks in Kazakhstan, where Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to establish the zones in Syria. "The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group's ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world", task force officials said. They discussed developments in Syria, including a Russian-proposed plan for "safe zones" that went into effect on Saturday.


Political and armed opposition groups in Syria have rejected the proposal, saying Russian Federation has been unwilling or unable to get President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian-backed militia allies to respect past ceasefires.

"We confirm that a draft resolution has been introduced", Russian news agencies cited the country's United Nations mission spokesman Fyodor Strzhizhovsky as saying in NY, without giving details.

Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Asharq Al-Awsat that around 1,100 people left the Barzeh neighborhood on Monday. It is not yet clear how the new plan would affect flightpaths of coalition warplanes battling militants from the Islamic State group and other radical groups - and whether the American air force would abide by a diminished air space.

He also wondered if the safe zones will affect the US-led coalition's fight against IS, saying that he thinks "the global community is united in the sense of wanting to see ISIS put on its back foot". Asked whether Lavrov's visit boded well for improving ties, Tillerson said Monday: "We shall see".

Despite several rounds of UN-mediated negotiations in Geneva, the government and opposition remain at odds over Assad's future role in Syria. And a member of the rebel delegation to the talks said the opposition was 'recording violations of the deal committed by the regime and its militias.

The memorandum, a copy of which was published on the website of the Russian foreign ministry, says that the war against ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups that are omnipresent in rebel-held areas will continue, even in the safe areas designated in four key parts of the country.

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