Russia, Iran, Tur­key to po­lice Idlib safe zone

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

As­tana, Kaza­khstan - Russia, Iran and Tur­key struck a deal on Fri­day to jointly po­lice a fourth safe zone around Syria's Idlib prov­ince as part of a Moscow-led plan to ease the six-year con­flict.

In a joint state­ment af­ter two days of talks in Kaza­khstan, the three pow­ers said they agreed ‘to al­lo­cate’ their forces to pa­trol the zone cov­er­ing the rebel-held Idlib prov­ince and parts of the neigh­bour­ing Latakia, Hama and Aleppo re­gions.

Regime back­ers Russia and Iran and rebel sup­porter Tur­key agreed in May to set four ‘de-es­ca­la­tion zones’ in rebel-held ter­ri­tory around Syria to halt fight­ing be­tween the govern­ment and mod­er­ate op­po­si­tion.

Since then Russia has forged ahead with es­tab­lish­ing three of the zones on the ground by de­ploy­ing mil­i­tary po­lice to pa­trol the bound­aries of safe ar­eas in the south of Syria, in East­ern Ghouta near Da­m­as­cus, and in part of the cen­tral Homs prov­ince.

How­ever, the three pow­ers had strug­gled to agree the de­tails of the fi­nal zone around Idlib on the bor­der with Tur­key, as Ankara and Tehran vied to ex­pand their in­flu­ence.

Idlib was cap­tured in 2015 by an al­liance of ex­trem­ists and rebels and re­mains beyond the govern­ment con­trol.

Fri­day’s state­ment said that Rus­sian, Ira­nian and Turk­ish forces would be de­ployed ac­cord­ing to maps agreed ear­lier this month in Ankara, the Turk­ish cap­i­tal, but gave no fur­ther de­tails of their ex­act po­si­tions or the tim­ing.

Russia’s chief ne­go­tia­tor Alexander Lavren­tyev hailed the deal as the ‘fi­nal stage’ in the cre­ation of the four safe zones.

Nev­er­the­less, Lavren­tyev, ac­knowl­edged there re­mains a ‘long jour­ney ahead to strengthen trust’ be­tween As­sad’s govern­ment and the armed op­po­si­tion.

Regime rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bashar al Jaa­fari said Da­m­as­cus ‘sup­ports any ini­tia­tive in Syria that stops the shed­ding of Syr­ian blood and de­creases suf­fer­ing’.

A state­ment on its Face­book page said that the armed op­po­si­tion noted that no ‘mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism’ had been agreed for the new zone in Idlib.

“(Bashar) As­sad’s forces or mili­tias will not be present in any area or part of the de-es­ca­la­tion zones and will not have a role in our lib­er­ated zones,” the state­ment said.

On the ground the zones have al­ready seen fight­ing drop and al­lowed Da­m­as­cus and Moscow to turn more of their fire­power against the IS.

The par­tic­i­pants agreed to a fresh round of talks in As­tana in Oc­to­ber.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.