Rus­sian forces to mon­i­tor Syria safe zones

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MOSCOW — Rus­sia has de­ployed mil­i­tary po­lice to mon­i­tor two safe zones be­ing es­tab­lished in Syria, it was an­nounced on Mon­day, with of­fi­cials call­ing it a new era of US co­op­er­a­tion.

Se­nior com­man­der Sergei Rud­skoi said Rus­sian forces had set up check­points and ob­ser­va­tion posts around a zone in the south­west and in an­other cov­er­ing Eastern Ghouta, near Da­m­as­cus.

The two ar­eas are part of a broader plan to cre­ate four “de-es­ca­la­tion zones” in re­bel­held parts of Syria.

The De­fense Min­istry’s an­nounce­ment marks the first de­ploy­ment of for­eign troops to bol­ster the safe zones as Moscow seeks to pacify Syria af­ter the six-year civil war.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov on Mon­day praised the cre­ation of the safe zones, say­ing it showed Rus­sia can work with the United States un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. He said the fact that Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed on cre­at­ing de-es­ca­la­tion zones in south­ern Syria at their first meet­ing at the G20 in Ham­burg was “a con­crete ex­am­ple that we can work to­gether”.

Rus­sia, the US and Jor­dan have struck a deal to fix the bound­aries of this zone and im­pose a cease-fire in the area.

Rud­skoi said Rus­sian per­son­nel last week es­tab­lished two check­points and 10 ob­ser­va­tion posts along the bound­aries di­vid­ing rebel forces and gov­ern­ment troops in the south­ern zone.

Moscow has also in­formed Is­rael of its de­ploy­ment and that the near­est Rus­sian po­si­tion is 13 kilo­me­ters from the de­mar­ca­tion line be­tween Is­raeli and Syr­ian troops in the Golan Heights, Rud­skoi said.

Mean­while, at least 30 civil­ians were killed on Mon­day when a US-led airstrike hit a prison run by the Is­lamic State group in Syria’s north­ern city of Raqqa, lo­cal Sham FM ra­dio re­ported. The strike by the US-led coali­tion struck the prison, where the civil­ians were held cap­tives by IS in the cen­tral part of Raqqa, said the re­port.

Since en­ter­ing Syria to fight the IS in 2014, the coali­tion has killed tens of civil­ians in ar­eas con­trolled by IS in north­ern and eastern Syria.

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