The safe or de-escalation zones in Syria are described as a temporary measure which will be enforced for the next six months with the possibility of extending it for another six.
The safe zones were agreed by the guarantor-states – Russia, Iran and Turkey – during negotiations in the Kazakh capital, Astana Thursday. All parties expressed hope that the initiative will lead the way for the settlement of the conflict.
The four safe zones are established in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and parts of neighboring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces; in the northern part of Homs province; in the Damascus neighborhood of Eastern Ghouta, and in parts of southern Deraa and Quneitra provinces bordering Jordan.
Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to prepare maps that will separate the areas controlled by the so-called “moderate opposition” from the territories held by the jihadists and provide precise safe zone demarcation by June 4.
Airspace over safe zones
Russian Aerospace Forces have already, on May 1 paused their airstrikes in the areas demarcated as safe zones, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
The airspace over the safe zones may also be closed for the planes of the US-led coalition, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry saying the issue is being negotiated between the Russian and American militaries.
Around 42,000 opposition fighters currently remain on the territory of the four security zones, with the majority of the militants located in Idlib (14,500) and near the Jordanian border (15,000), according to Russian estimates.
The establishment of safe zones doesn’t mean that the fight against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups will stop in the country. On the contrary, the move will allow Syria to free additional forces to tackle the jihadists, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
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