Russia: Syria deal bans US-led coalition aircraft

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, described the agreement as "an important promising positive step in the right direction" toward a halt in the fighting.

The US State Department, which had only dispatched an observer to the talks, said it welcomed signing the memorandum but expressed concern about Iran's role.

"There are six million Syrians who have fled to the government-controlled zones and there they're provided with housing, food and everything that they need", so, "the safe zones are in Syria with the Syrian government".

It was unclear whether USA officials were aware of the stipulation banning coalition flights in the "de-escalation zones" before it was announced on Friday.

The surprise announcement by Russian Federation of "safe zones" have been a key demand of rebel-backers Turkey.

Government forces and rebels who have signed onto the deal will agree to halt all hostilities, including the use of warplanes, in the zones.

The tentative agreement is no guarantor of relief for Syrians; government forces have previously stopped aid from reaching civilians during a ceasefire, and most of the country's medical infrastructure is destroyed or vastly diminished.

The second is in the north of central Homs province, where rebels hold a stretch of territory, with the third covering the Eastern Ghouta area, a rebel stronghold outside the capital Damascus.

The first zone includes the whole of Idlib province along with certain parts of neighbouring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces. Observation points will monitor the cease-fire in the region.

Alexander Lavrentyev, the head of Russia's delegation in peace talks and Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Syria, said the issue of whether aircraft can operate in the safe zones is "off the table".

Lavrentyev said Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation have agreed on the possibility of allowing worldwide observers in case there is "unanimity" on that issue.

De Mistura also noted that there is no ready-made political solution to the Syrian crisis, but negotiations contribute to this.

Military operations are likely to continue against members of al-Qaida-linked group known as the Levant Liberation Committee, which is active in areas where the fours zones are meant to be.

The memorandum agreed during talks in Astana does not specify a start date for the implementation of the zones, but calls on the signatories to form a joint working group within two weeks.

Russia, Iran and Turkey serve as guarantors of the arrangement, which carries hopes of deescalating violence in the war-torn country.

Yet, the de-escalation zones agreement was not signed by the Syrian government, nor the opposition.

The opposition groups, some of whom walked out of the talks, and the United States criticized Iran's role in the negotiations.

The Pentagon said the de-escalation agreement would not affect the US -led air campaign against IS.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he was encouraged by the proposal but cautioned it must "actually improve the lives of Syrians".

SDF has been on the offensive in Tabqa since mid-April.

  • Leroy Wright