Russia, Iran, Turkey sign on 'de-escalation zones' in Syria

"We refuse any role for Iran and militias affiliated with it".

The deal led to some members of the Syrian opposition delegation in the Kazakh capital Astana to slam the agreement.

Bogdanov noted that the details concerning the implementation of the memorandum, including involvement in monitoring activities, are to be clarified by experts and military officials of the countries acting as guarantors of the ceasefire (Russia, Iran, Turkey).

Turkey and Russian Federation have been on sharply opposing sides in the Syria conflict, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad but Ankara pushing for his ouster.

The Syrian government has said that although it will abide by the agreement, it would continue fighting "terrorism" wherever it exists, parlance for most armed rebel groups fighting government troops.

"We hope it is going to be concrete in the next two weeks for the resumption of the Geneva talks", the United Nations envoy said. "It is an agreement between the three countries", said Usama Abu Zeid, a rebel spokesman. "We do not accept their guarantee!"

The United Nations' Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, hailed the announcement as a "step in the right direction" toward a broader truce.

A working group will be set up within two weeks to resolve technical issues and the three countries agreed to set up the four areas by June 4.

Moscow's draft proposal included four safe zones. The zones will also include parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces, the ministry said.

Russia's plan for "de-escalation" zones was backed by Iran at the Kazakhstan talks.

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They also questioned whether the plan could lead to Syria's disintegration.

But issues including which countries could police any safe zones remained unclear.

Putin said Wednesday that "as far I could tell" the United States leader broadly supported the idea in a phone call they held on Tuesday.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said US -led coalition aircraft would be able to operate against the Islamic State group in specific areas, but the "de-escalation zones" were now closed to their flights.

Moscow's envoy said this means coalition air power can now only focus on "Islamic State targets that are located in the area of Raqa, some populated areas in the region of the Euphrates, Deir Ezzor and further on to the territory of Iraq".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published Thursday that the plan would solve "50 percent" of the six-year conflict.

The Tass news agency reported that Stuart Jones, an assistant secretary of state, has already met separately with Russia's representative.

Syrian rebels said earlier Thursday that they had resumed participation in the talks after having suspended their involvement a day earlier over air strikes against civilians.

The outburst was yet another example of how hard it has been to create a lasting cease-fire in Syria, where a six-year civil war is estimated to have killed more than 400,000 people, made millions refugees and devastated large swaths of the country.

  • Megan Austin