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Russian-Proposed ‘De-escalation’ Plan To Save Syria Gets Under Way

May 5, 2017 (EIRNS)—Turkey, Russia and Iran signed a memorandum at the end of Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana yesterday, backing Russia’s proposal to create four "de-escalation" zones in Syria. Implementation is to begin at 00:00 local time on May 6, Russian defense officials reported today.

The de-escalation zones will be in rebel-held territory in the northwestern province of Idlib, in parts of Homs province in the center, in the south, and in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. The aim is to put an immediate end to the violence and provide the conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees as well as the immediate delivery of relief supplies and medical aid, the document said.

Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of Russia’s military general staff emphasized to reporters today that the agreement will allow the Syrian military to concentrate its war on Daesh and al-Nusra. Syrian forces, backed by Russian airpower, will go on the offensive now near Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor, and the north-eastern territories in the Aleppo province along the Euphrates River.

"Personnel and formations of Russia, Turkey and Iran" will man the checkpoints and observation posts, and manage the new safe zones, according to Rudskoi. He added, without further specification that "by mutual agreement of the guarantor countries, the forces of other parties can be enlisted" in enforcing these areas. 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 and rebel delegations are not signatories, but Syrian state news agency SANA reported that Damascus supports the Russian plan. The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee terrorist front predictably denounced it. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "is encouraged by the agreement," UN spokesman Stephanie Dujarric reported.

The plan was coordinated with 27 field commanders of armed groups operating in the four de-escalation zones, involving some 42,000 militants, according to Sputnik.

Lt. Gen. Fomin gave reporters an idea of the work that went into reaching this agreement, whose aim, in his words, is to "practically put an end to the civil war in Syria." He cited President Putin’s many discussions of the political solution with the leadership of Turkey, the U.S. and Iran; Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s working meetings with the defense ministers of Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Israel; "constant contacts" via intelligence agencies and foreign ministries; and "much work" with the Syrian leadership and leaders of armed opposition groups to convince them of the necessity of taking these steps.

"The position of the United States, which welcomed the steps to reduce violence in Syria, improve the humanitarian situation and create conditions for a political settlement of the conflict, positively influenced the creation of de-escalation zones,"

Fomin noted.