Russia: Syrian Safe Zones Plan Comes Into Effect

The Russian and USA chiefs of general staff agreed on Saturday to fully resume the implementation of a joint memorandum on preventing mid-air incidents over Syria, Russian news agencies quoted the Russian Defence Ministry as saying.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin named Jordan as one of a number of countries already working with Russia in this effort. 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.

Disputes about the details of agreements in the Syrian civil war have always made negotiations thorny.

Earlier, a Pentagon spokesman, US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, referred CNN to the State Department for comment but said the de-escalation zones are west of where ISIS operates in Syria.

The four main battlegrounds covered are the northwestern province of Idlib, parts of Homs province in the centre, the south, and the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

The zones do not cover the three areas held entirely by the government, Damascus city, Tartus and Sweida, or areas in the northeast held by IS or a Kurdish-Arab alliance fighting the militant group.

Russian diplomat Aleksandr Lavrentiev suggested that Russian and Turkish warplanes would, like the US-led coalition, be prohibited from flying over the zones.

During an interview with the Mir television channel, Russian Foreign minister said that the U.S. itself has proposed to stop violence in Syria.

There have been many calls for no-fly zones in Syria.

Troops from the three countries are expected to help secure the safe zones.

Russian Federation said it could be expanded to create more zones.

With the help of Russian Federation and Iranian-backed militias, the Syrian government has gained the military upper hand in the six-year conflict.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported on Saturday morning "relative clam" is prevailing the designated zones nine hours after the deal went into effect.

"The case is that in the de-escalation zones, the work of aviation, especially the coalition forces, is absolutely not envisaged, with or without notification", Lavrentyev said.

According to the text of the document published by the Russian Foreign Ministry on May 6, Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to establish four separate de-escalation zones in Syria for at least six months.

Russian Federation scrapped the 2015 airspace safety agreement after the Pentagon conducted a cruise missile strike in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's deadly chemical attack in Syria's Idlib province last month.

Meanwhile, the United States has expressed concern over the deal, particularly as the stakeholders - now trying to enforce peace - have all played an active role on the ground in the conflict.

He said the USA -led coalition aircraft would still be able to operate against IS in specific areas. Rebels fighting to topple Assad are enraged by Iran's role in the deal and blame the Shiite power for fueling the sectarian nature of Syria's conflict, now in its seventh year.

  • Leroy Wright