Syrian rebel and government forces conflict has eased on after a Russian-led effort resulted in a partial ceasefire effect, although fighting has continued on important fronts near Hama and Damascus. The deal propagates the creation of “de-escalation” zones in west Syria. However, a Washington spokesman from the State Department said the deal doesn’t “preclude anyone from going after terrorists wherever they may be in Syria”.
The deal was arranged thanks to Russian efforts, was also supported by Turkey, which had previously sided with the rebels. Iran, Assad’s second major ally, also backed the deal. A State Department official was also present in Astana, Kazakhstan, during the talks that led to the deal. Turkey and Iran looked into the Russian proposal for de-escalation zones on Thursday and stated that they would back it.
The text of the memorandum was published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday. The opposition rejects this deal saying Russia shows unwillingness to persuade Assad to respect prior ceasefires. Assad’s government backed the proposal but insists on fighting terrorist groups across the country. Those who don’t exactly “play by the rules”.
A rebel commander said the general level of violence was reduced, but added: “Regime attempts (to advance) in the Hama countryside continue.”
Thanks to the support coming from Iranian-backed militias and Russia, the Syrian government has regained a foothold in the six-year conflict. The wide array of rebel groups include some supported by Turkey, the United States and “Gulf monarchies”, Reuters reports.
Six months is the trial period for which the four de-escalation zones would be enforced. The ceasefire can be extended later if the supporting countries back up the initiative. The text states that weaponry and airstrikes are off the table for that period. During that period it’s supposed to draw in international humanitarian aid, medical assistance and allow the population to reclaim their homes and recuperate.
The biggest de-escalation zone encompasses the Idlib province and adjoining districts of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo with a combined 1 million residents, as stated by the memorandum text. The other three zones are in northern Homs province, the Eastern Ghouta region east of Damascus and along the Jordanian border in southern Syria.