Fighting reported in Hama, as 'safe zones' come into force

A Russian diplomat has emphasized that safe zones that would be established in Syria under a deal reached by Russia, Turkey, and Iran would be closed to warplanes of the US -led coalition.

Rudskoi said that Syrian government troops freed up after the safety zones come into force will be sent to fight IS in central and eastern Syria and along the Euphrates river with Russian air support.

Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum on the creation of the safe zones on Thursday after two days of talks in Kazakhstan that also included representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups.

The safe zones will be closed to military aircraft from the US-led coalition, the Russian official who signed the agreement, Alexander Lavrentye, said.

Importantly, the plan envisages a complete halt to Syrian air force - and potentially US-led coalition - flights over the designated areas.

But the Pentagon said the de-escalation agreement will not affect the us -led air campaign against the Islamic State group.

He also cited what he called "a huge gap" between the promises of Russian Federation, which intervened militarily in 2015 on Al-Assad's side and gave him back the upper hand in the conflict.

HNC's strongly worded statement says only the United Nations should be entrusted with talks to deal with the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian opposition has suspended their participation in the talks because they object to Iran's being a signatory to the agreement, as "they are aggressors".

But he stressed that Russia's air force would continue striking so-called Islamic State (IS) elsewhere in Syria.

The zones are four areas located across eight of Syria's 14 provinces.

Neither the Syrian government, nor the opposition had signed the de-escalation zones agreement. Opposition to this new agreement protested Iran's involvement as a guarantor of the deal, for Iran is accused of encouraging sectarian fighting in Syria.

However, the White House has not yet officially commented on the new safe zone proposal.

The Pentagon spokesman also said that the USA continues "to effectively de-conflict coalition operations, however, we are not going to discuss the specifics of how we de-conflict operations in the highly congested and complex battlespace in Syria". In fact, the United States and Saudi Arabia have come out in support of the agreement, Reuters reports, as it doesn't interfere with the anti-ISIS efforts in the east for either Russian Federation or the US.

He added that talks under the auspices of the United Nations are the only way to find a solution to the crisis in Syria, therefore, the Astana Platform and the talks in Geneva are interrelated and the influence of the three guarantor countries will also help, expecting that there will be important achievements in the ongoing negotiation process in this city.

Diplomatic efforts in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Russian, Turkish and Iranian delegations have resulted in an agreement to enact safe zones in Syria in what observers hope will be a big step toward peace in the war-torn country.

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), controlling parts of it.

Syrian fighter jets fired at the rebel-held village of Al-Zalakiyat in the northwestern province of Hama, and government forces shelled the nearby towns of Kafr Zita and Latamneh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

  • Leroy Wright