Russian forces to monitor Syria safe zones
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.