Russia, Iran, Tur­key agree to new safe zone in war-torn Syria

A new safe zone would be a fourth of its kind, which Rus­sian, Ira­nian, and Turk­ish of­fi­cials claim led to a de­cline in vi­o­lence in Syria. But any com­pre­hen­sive and long-last­ing peace will re­quire the weight of the UN

The Daily News Egypt - - Politics -

DW—Russia, Iran, and Tur­key agreed Fri­day to jointly pa­trol a safe zone around Syria’s Idlib gover­norate, mak­ing it the fourth such area cre­ated by the troika in the war-torn coun­try.

A joint state­ment is­sued af­ter two days of talks in Kaza­khstan said the three coun­tries agreed “to al­lo­cate” their forces to pa­trol the zone cov­er­ing rebel-held Idlib prov­ince and parts of the neigh­bor­ing Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo re­gions.

The sixth round of talks in the Kazakh cap­i­tal, As­tana, con­cluded that each coun­try would send 500 ob­servers, with the stip­u­la­tion that the Rus­sian par­tic­i­pants will be mil­i­tary po­lice­men.

The ob­servers’ mis­sion will be to pre­vent clashes be­tween “the (Syr­ian) regime and the op­po­si­tion forces, and any vi­o­la­tions of the truce,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry.

The Idlib gover­norate lies in north­west Syria on the bor­der with Tur­key. It is pri­mar­ily con­trolled by a rebel al­liance, led by the for­mer Al-Qaeda off­shoot Al Nusra Front.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with Al Manar TV in As­tana, Ira­nian Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Hos­sein Jaberi An­sari said the “joint pres­ence” in Idlib re­ferred to a “se­cure cor­don” with check­points.

Russia and Iran have been pow­er­ful al­lies be­hind Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad dur­ing the six-year-long civil war, while Tur­key has sup­ported some of the rebel forces fight­ing to over­throw him.

Gen­uine peace ap­pears far-off “This an­nounce­ment of a deesca­la­tion zone in Idlib con­sti­tutes the fi­nal stage of the re­al­i­sa­tion of the me­moran­dum signed in May,” the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry said. It added that the agree­ment reached in the spring had brought a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in vi­o­lence.

Crit­ics ac­cuse the trio of out­lin­ing a plan for the de-facto par­ti­tion­ing of Syria, but the three coun­tries said Fri­day that the zones were tem­po­rary, al­though their ex­is­tence could be ex­tended beyond the ini­tial six-month term.

“With this lat­est de­vel­op­ment, the me­moran­dum is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to pro­vid­ing nec­es­sary con­di­tions to fur­ther the po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion process go­ing on in Geneva un­der UN mon­i­tor­ing,” Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry said.

But the United Na­tions en­voy for Syria, Staffan de Mis­tura, said more needs to be done.He called on the trio to “bring the mo­men­tum of As­tana” to broader talks on find­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the war that the UN has hosted with­out much suc­cess in Geneva.

“No de-es­ca­la­tion can be sus­tained with­out a com­pre­hen­sive po­lit­i­cal process, and that is based in Geneva,” he said.

Some ob­servers have viewed the As­tana process as a means for Russia, Iran, and Tur­key to keep the West on the side­lines of any res­o­lu­tion to the Syr­ian Civil War that has al­ready claimed over 330,000 lives.

Russia and Iran have been pow­er­ful al­lies be­hind Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad dur­ing the six-year-long civil war

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