Syrian Opposition Group Slams Russian Proposed De-Escalation Deal

The Turkish army is bracing to enter Syria's northwestern province of Idlib as part of the "de-escalation zone" deal reached recently between Russia, Iran and Turkey, pan-Arab Mayadeen TV reported on Saturday, citing "activists". But the agreement is not exactly what it had in mind, and is already primed for failure.

The safe zone agreement has not been signed by Syrian government officials or the rebel forces fighting them.

The deal excludes the terror-designated groups such as the Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, as the battles against those groups will continue. But to the Syrian regime, anybody who takes up arms against the rule of president Bashar Al Assad is a terrorist.

A partial cessation of hostilities was declared at the end of previous year, but violence has continued on several fronts. Neither the regime nor the opposition signed the agreement.

The Britain-based group said that this is the first ceasefire in 2017, but the fourth ceasefire since 2016 in Syria.

Syrian government warplanes could be heard from Eastern Ghouta around midday on Saturday, according to a correspondent in the rebel-held town of Douma.

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Trump's meeting with Lavrov follows the Russian Federation visit of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow last month. Several ceasefires have been agreed on since Syria's conflict broke out, but they have failed to stem the fighting.

Russian military officials said the plan, which was agreed to in Syria talks in Kazakhstan on Thursday, envisions establishing four safe zones that could would bring relief for hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and encourage refugees to return.

Do you ever have any question about anything you wish to ask and get answer? Russia, Turkey and Iran will act as guarantors of the cease-fire.

The deal is the latest bid to end more than six years of conflict that have killed over 320,000 people since anti- government protests erupted in March 2011.

An global team set up to apportion blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria has started investigating the deadly April 4 sarin gas attack in Idlib province. In essence, the belligerents themselves will be tasked with upholding their commitments to the de-escalation agreement.

Vasquez said the Russians' interpretation of their own agreement "makes no sense".

The Russian Defence Ministry announced on Friday that four de-escalation zones in Syria will go into effect at midnight.

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Some of its terms are ambiguous - it does not specify that the safe zones take effect immediately but gives the three guarantor countries two weeks to form working groups to delineate them and then until June 4 to come up with the definitive boundaries.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, agreed to the deal Thursday, but members of the opposition delegation walked out on the talks rather than sign the deal.

"We continue to have concerns about the. involvement of Iran as a so-called guarantor", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the WSJ Thursday.

The Russian-led deal "was concluded without the Syrian people" and "lacks the minimum basics of legitimacy", it said in a statement.

But Lavrentiev seemed to sketch out a broader geographical no-fly zone for USA and coalition military planes.

A spokeswoman for US President Donald Trump commented on the safe zones at the White House daily media briefing.

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The agreement says that the de-escalation areas and security zones are a temporary measure, that could be in place for six months.


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