Syria's de-escalation zones to be closed to international coalition's aircraft

The conflict occurred in the rebel-held village of al-Zalakiyat as fighter jets fired in the Hama countryside, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Separately, a Syrian monitoring group and an official with a USA -backed force said on Thursday that Kurdish-led fighters have captured all parts of a Tabqa, a northern town in Syria that was held by ISIS.

Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation have signed an agreement calling for the setting up four "de-escalation zones" in war-torn Syria in the latest attempt to reduce violence in the Arab country.

The zones are located in the Idlib province, an area north of the city of Homs, in eastern Ghouta, and in southern Syria, and while they have taken effect, it will be about a month before all details of their establishment are finalized, Russian officials have said.

The chief problems facing these proposed "de-escalation zones" are the same ones that undermined past agreements on cessation of hostilities: the Syrian government and its allies have a very loose definition of what constitutes a terrorist group and the presence of extremist groups that have a vested interest in spoiling the peace.

Russian Federation and Iran's military support has been crucial to the survival of Assad's government and the victories of his military.

The US president Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the creation of safe zones for civilians in Syria, saying the United States would get Arab Gulf states to pay for them. But rebels reject the deal, saying they will not recognise Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire.

Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said Friday staff from Russia, Iran and Turkey would operate checkpoints and observation posts.

The diplomat, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, also suggested that Russian and Turkish warplanes would be prohibited from flying in four designated "de-escalation zones", where Syrian government and rebel forces are supposed to stop fighting each other.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters the US -led coalition in Syria had not altered its operations, but declined to comment on the de-escalation zones.

The Russian Ministry of Defense notes that the deal on safe zones in Syria wil come into effect 21:00 GMT on May 5.

Representatives of the guarantor countries of the ceasefire in Syria during this round of worldwide talks in Astana signed a memorandum on the establishment of four de-escalation zones in Syria, which include the province of Idlib and seven other regions.

The plan is the latest global attempt to reduce violence in war-ravaged Syria.

The deal seeks to ground all military aviation in the four areas, including flights by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

The US state department said that it supports "any effort" that can genuinely move towards peace but voiced scepticism about the new agreement's ability to create safe zones.

Turkey, the third sponsor, is a major backer of opposition factions and has also sent troops into northern Syria, angering Assad and his government.

A working group will be set up within two weeks to resolve technical issues and the three countries agreed to set up the four areas by June 4. He said that Russian Federation has already halted air assaults in those areas as of May 1.

  • Leroy Wright