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Participants attend the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana on May 4.
Participants attend the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana on May 4.

Iran, Russia, Turkey Conclude Syria Safe Zones Agreement

The agreement, the latest endeavor to reduce violence in Syria, calls for delineating zones where frontlines between government forces and militants would be frozen and fighting halted

Iran, Russia, Turkey Conclude Syria Safe Zones Agreement

Representatives of the three guarantors of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, on Thursday agreed to establish "de-escalation zones" in Syria.
It came at the end of the fourth round of the intra-Syrian talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana that got underway on Wednesday.
The Russian delegation attending the talks was led by Russian presidential envoy for Syrian settlement, Alexander Lavrentiev, the Turkish delegation by Deputy Undersecretary for the Middle East and Africa at the Turkish Foreign Ministry Sedat Onal and the Iranian delegation by Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari, TASS reported.
Also taking part in the consultations were representatives of the UN, Jordan, the United States, the Syrian government and the armed opposition.
The agreement, the latest endeavor to reduce violence in the conflict-ridden Arab country, calls for delineating zones where frontlines between the Syrian government forces and militants would be frozen and fighting halted.
The plan, which was proposed by Russia, includes four zones in the province of Idlib, areas north of Homs, the eastern Ghouta suburbs outside Damascus and an area in the south of the country.
Checkpoints and observation posts are to be positioned along the de-escalation lines within the safe zones, which will provide free movement of unarmed civilians and humanitarian access to the areas, under guarantor states' control.
The three countries undertook to set up a working group on drawing up the maps of proposed safe zones in Syria within two weeks.
Sponsors of the deal hope safe zones would bring relief for hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and encourage refugees to return.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura described Thursday's agreement as a "step in the right direction", expressing hope that the deal would boost UN-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva.
Ansari said the plan could bring a fundamental change to the longstanding crisis, which has killed thousands and displaced millions.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said the next round of Syrian peace talks will be hosted by Astana in mid-July, with expert meetings scheduled to be held two weeks in advance.

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