U.S. seeks sec­ond Syr­ian cease-fire zone

Trump says truce in ‘rough’ area could speed end to deadly civil war

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Justin Sink and Gre­gory Vis­cusi of Bloomberg News.

PARIS — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the U. S. is work­ing to ex­pand a re­gional cease-fire in the Syr­ian civil war to a sec­ond zone, say­ing it may prove to be the first step to­ward end­ing a civil war that has killed more than 400,000 peo­ple and sent mil­lions more flee­ing.

Trump said Thurs­day in Paris that the cease-fire in south­west Syria that he and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin agreed to im­pose af­ter their July 7 meet­ing in Ham­burg, Ger­many, has saved “a lot of lives.”

“We’re work­ing on a sec­ond cease-fire in a very rough part of Syria,” Trump said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron. “And if we get that, and a few more, all of a sud­den you’re go­ing to have no bul­lets be­ing fired in Syria. And that would be a won­der­ful thing.”

U. S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said this week in Is­tan­bul that the U.S. and Turkey were be­gin­ning to re­build trust and could come to an agree­ment about north­ern Syria, where the U.S. backs a Kur­dish mili­tia that Turkey con­sid­ers a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Dur­ing his first visit to Paris as pres­i­dent, Trump fo­cused on the civil war in Syria and the broader coali­tion fight against the Is­lamic State in meet­ings with Macron and U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials.

Af­ter Iraqi forces re­cap­tured the city of Mo­sul from Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, the U.S. and al­lies are con­sid­er­ing the best op­tions for main­tain­ing peace in the re­gion.

Trump told Reuters in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day that the fight against the ter­ror­ist group in Iraq and Syria was “al­most com­plete.”

France was the first Euro­pean coun­try to join U.S. air at­tacks on Is­lamic State groups in Iraq and then Syria, and French spe­cial forces and an ar­tillery unit sup­ported Iraqi troops in their bat­tle for Mo­sul. Trump and Macron spoke by phone last month and agreed to carry out joint airstrikes should the Syr­ian regime use chem­i­cal weapons again.

While the U.S. State Depart­ment has con­tin­ued to say that Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad won’t be part of Syria’s long-term fu­ture, Macron said Thurs­day that rep­re­sen­ta­tives of As­sad’s regime and the op­po­si­tion should both be in­volved in draw­ing up a road map for post­war Syria.

“France’s pri­or­ity in Syria is erad­i­cat­ing ter­ror­ist groups,” Macron said, adding, “I do not re­quire As­sad’s de­par­ture. This is not a pre­req­ui­site.”

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