Turkey, Iran and Russia agree on ‘safe zones’ in Syria’s Idlib

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Representatives of the Syria regime and rebel groups along with other attendees take part in the session of Syria peace talks in Astana on September 15, 2017. Russia, Iran and Turkey have in Astana reached a deal to jointly police a fourth safe zone as part of a Russia-driven plan to still fighting in the six-year Syrian conflict. According to a joint declaration produced at the end of two days of talks in Kazakh capital, the trio agreed to deploy "de-escalation control forces" in a zone encompassing the troublesome province of Idlib as well as "certain parts" of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces. / AFP PHOTO / Stanislav FILIPPOV

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Turkey, Iran and Russia had agreed to deploy observers to the boundaries of a de-escalation zone in the Idlib region of northern Syria, which is under the control of Islamist militants, Reuters reported.

According to the agreement, four de-escalation zones to be set up in different parts of Syria will be functional for six months.

Observers from these three countries will be deployed at check and observation points in safe zones that form the borders of the de-escalation zone,” the ministry statement said.

A total of 500 observers from each country are expected to protect the truce while preventing conflicts between the Syrian regime and the opposition.

Idlib, one of four regions across Syria, was controlled by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed in May to designate it as a de-escalation zone to support a cease-fire agreement.

This announcement of a de-escalation zone in Idlib constitutes the final stage of the realization of the memorandum signed in May,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The agreement has been criticized for leading to the partition of Syria, while the three countries claimed that the zones are temporary.

Under no circumstances [will] the creation of the above-mentioned de-escalation areas undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the three nations said in a joint statement made in Astana.

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