Pentagon says Syria deal won't affect IS fight

Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantor countries of the Syrian ceasefire, agreed during talks in Astana to monitor the de-escalation zones, but Rudskoy said "forces from other parties could be involved with the agreement of the guarantor states".

The main Syrian opposition body, the HNC, which includes political and armed groups, denounced the plan earlier as vague.

As officials from the three countries - Russia, Iran and Turkey - that back rival sides in the conflict signed the agreement at Syria talks in Kazakhstan on Thursday, some members of the Syrian opposition delegation shouted in protest and walked out of the conference room in Astana, the Kazakh capital.

The move, welcomed by the United Nations, has been met with scepticism from the United States as the so-called safe-zones will be closed for warplanes of the United States and those of the US -led coalition.

Russian Federation and Iran are both key backers of Assad. The Syrian government has said that although it will abide by the agreement, it would continue fighting "terrorism" wherever it exists, parlance for most armed rebel groups fighting government troops.

The four safe zones to be established in Syria will be closed for flights by US-led coalition warplanes, said the Russian envoy to the Astana peace talks, where the zones were agreed upon. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly implied that these would be general no-fly zones, not just for certain nations.

But one part of the Eastern Ghouta zone, Qaboun, is exempt from the deal, Defence Ministry official Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi said on Friday. Full details of Thursday's agreement have not yet been released.

Access to the areas will be controlled via security zones complete with checkpoints and observation posts.

The zones appear meant to halt conflict in specific areas between Syrian government forces and rebels, and would potentially be policed by foreign troops.

The guarantor states committed to take all the necessary measures to continue fighting Islamic State, Nusra and other groups both within and beyond the de-escalation zones.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said "the operation of aviation in the de-escalation zones, especially of the forces of the global coalition, is absolutely not envisaged, either with notification or without". The New York Times noted that the US conducts airstrikes in non-listed areas against al-Qaida affiliates. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway. ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Sunni militant group.

There were reports that the safe zones would be no-fly areas for warplanes from the US-led coalition. They also include some of the areas where Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, has skirmished with Kurdish militias that are backed, sometimes with airstrikes, by the United States.

"We have an agreement already (in) our hands, why isn't it implemented?" he said, referring to a truce deal announced by Russian Federation in December that was largely ignored on the ground. Jamil al-Saleh, the commander, said government shelling was intense amid an attempt to advance in the area, scene to fierce battles for weeks.

  • Leroy Wright