Accord reached on Syria 'de-escalation zones'

Accord reached on Syria 'de-escalation zones'

Accord reached on Syria 'de-escalation zones'

Earlier at the meeting, Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed to set up de-escalation zones in Eastern Ghouta, the provinces of Idlib, Homs, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama for six months.

The diplomatic push brings together the Syrian government and representatives of the opposition, including some key armed groups who had previously steered clear of other negotiations.

The zones do not intend to undermine "Syrian sovereignty", a statement said.

The plan calls for the cessation of hostilities between anti-government groups and forces fighting on behalf of Bashar al-Assad in four so-called de-escalation zones in mainly opposition-held areas of the country, with Russia, Turkey and Iran to act as guarantors.

The parties, while discussing final status of the talks and finalizing agreements on the documents of the Sixth Astana International Conference, exchanged views on text of the final statement of the conference.

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In a joint statement made in Astana, the three nations said that "under no circumstances the creation of the above-mentioned de-escalation areas undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic".

It said the observers' mission would be to prevent clashes between "the (Syrian) regime and the opposition forces, and any violations of the truce". "This was a war that was generated by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, by the USA, the UK, France, the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation states, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; so, literally, Syria a nation of 23 million has faced two thirds of the world's wealth and military power". Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, speaking in Astana to al-Manar TV station, also said the "joint presence" in Idlib referred to a "secure cordon" with checkpoints.

The focus in Astana was to provide security for civilians by creating de-escalation zones, a plan Turkey had long insisted on. "With this latest development, the memorandum is making a significant contribution to providing necessary conditions to further the political solution process going on in Geneva under United Nations monitoring", it said. The six-month term, which was agreed after talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, may be extended in the future.

While the Astana process is separate from the UN's Geneva talks, the attendance of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura links the Kazakh platform to broader worldwide efforts. The next meeting is planned to take place in late October in the Kazakh capital, read the joint agreement.

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