Russia: Syria safe zones closed to USA coalition planes

The agreement to establish ceasefire areas in large parts of northern, central and southern Syria was signed by Bashar al-Assad's backers Russian Federation and Iran, and an ally of rebel forces Turkey, but not by the Syrian opposition or regime.

The agreement would create four zones in northern Syria where fighting would stop by Saturday to provide civilians a place to congregate to escape the violence and receive food and medical attention.

"So I would put some trust in the fact that the very three countries who signed do have an involvement and therefore can also have a dis-involvement", he said.

Similarly, the Assad regime vowed it would not shell the safe zones, though previous cease-fire agreements like the one signed in December have been ignored by forces on both sides. Jets from the US-led coalition are barred from proposed safe zones in Syria set to be created under a deal inked by Russia, Iran and Turkey, Moscow's envoy said today.

"We refuse for it (Iran) to play any role as guarantor, considering it's a nation with hostilities against the Syrian people", said Osama Abu Zaid, a Syrian opposition delegation member.

There was no immediate comment from the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, which along with the United Nations and the USA, attended the talks in the Kazakh capital as observers.

Also, prospects for the success of the deal - agreed on by Russia, Turkey and Iran - are undermined by the failure of Syrian rebel groups who oppose President Bashar Assad to sign on to it.

Russia: Syria safe zones closed to USA coalition planes

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country's war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

"The Syrian Foreign Ministry has stated that the leadership of that country welcomes the agreements on creating de-escalation zones and ceases its aviation flights over them", the diplomat said, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Lavrentiev said Moscow was ready to send observers to the zones. Turkey and Russian Federation are deeply entangled in the war in Syria, with each country having troops on the ground there.

Similarly, the United Nations also said the deal provides an opportunity for peace to return to large parts of Syria.

Russian Federation and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, hope to build on a ceasefire deal they reached in December.

"In light of the failures of past agreements", Nauert's statement said, "we have reason to be cautious".

However, Brig. Gen. Hussam al-Awwak, an Arab spokesman for the SDF, told The Associated Press on Thursday that no such agreement was reached but that a corridor was opened for the extremists to leave the dam, which he said they still control.

  • Leroy Wright