Syria: Russia, Iran, Turkey agree to create safe zones

Moscow, Teheran and Ankara agreed Thursday in Astana; Kazakhstan’s capital; to work towards peace in Syria as the three warring sides penned down agreement to create safe zones to allow the return of refugees and facilitate peace.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the agreement signed by Damascus supporters Moscow, Teheran and rebels’ backer Ankara, would lead to “further pacification and cessation of hostilities” of a conflict, which killed more than 320,000 people since 2011.

The document reportedly calls for the creation of safe zones in rebel-held territory in the northwestern province of Idlib, in parts of Homs province in the center, in the south, and in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

Moscow and Tehran have been backing embattled Syrian leader Bashar al Assad in the conflict, opposing him to rebels backed by Ankara and Washington.

The Assad regime is not signatory to the agreement, criticized by rebels who have lambasted Teheran’s attendance of the talks.

Washington, which has been informed of the agreement, also expressed doubt over Iran’s good faith for peace. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert however noted that Washington would continue talking to Moscow to bring an end to the Syrian conflict.

“We continue to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called ‘guarantor’,” she said.

“Iran’s activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran’s unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians.”

“We nonetheless hope that this arrangement can contribute to a de-escalation of violence, end the suffering of the Syrian people, and set the stage for a political settlement of the conflict,” she said.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Russian Federation on efforts that can responsibly end the Syria conflict.”

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