EghtesadOnline: A top Russian general said troops from Iran will join with Turkey and Russia in securing four safe zones in Syria under an initiative aimed at shoring up a shaky cease-fire, even as Syrian rebel groups are resisting the plan because they oppose an Iranian role.
Lt. General Sergei Rudskoi said that Syrian government forces will refrain from attacking rebel groups, including by air, if they’re observing the truce in the so-called de-escalation zones, according to an emailed statement from the Defense Ministry in Moscow. He said that Russia has already halted air assaults in those areas as of May 1.
The zones, which may be expanded to include other locations, cover areas inhabited by about 2.7 million people, he said. They’re in northern Syria in territory covering parts of the provinces of Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama, as well as the north of Homs province, the east Ghouta suburb of the capital Damascus and in southern Syria on the border with Jordan, according to Bloomberg.
The zones will come into effect from May 6, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said in the same statement.
In an apparent challenge to the U.S., Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy at the talks, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Friday that the U.S.-led coalition in Syria wouldn’t be allowed to carry out bombing raids outside of eastern areas of the country where Islamic State forces are concentrated.
Putin said on Wednesday that he’d secured the backing of U.S. President Donald Trump for the proposal, which could include a ban on bombing raids. But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that the U.S. has “concerns” about the accord, “including the involvement of Iran as a so-called “guarantor,”’ and that Russia should do more to stop violence.