Russia: Syria deal bans US-led coalition aircraft

Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attends a briefing in the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 5, 2017. Instead, Russia announced that the safe zones, which went into effect overnight, are now officially closed to all warplanes, and USA officials are livid at the idea, insisting they have no intention of respecting that.

Iran and Turkey agreed on Thursday to a Russian proposal to establish four separate de-escalation zones in Syria for at least six months, according to a text detailing the agreement published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday.

But he stressed that Russia's air force would continue striking militants from the Islamic State (IS) group elsewhere in Syria.

The de-escalation zones are the latest global attempt to reduce violence in the war-ravaged country, and represent the first effort to envisage armed foreign monitors on the ground in Syria.

He added that all "main players concerned", namely "the United Nations, the U.S. administration, the Saudi Arabian leadership and other authorities", supported the de-escalation agreement, a move that could be a "certain guarantee" for the implementation of the deal. The Western, Saudi-backed group said the deal lacks legitimacy and seeks to divide the country. The third zone encompasses the Eastern Ghouta district near the capital Damascus, while the fourth zone includes southern Syria, particularly Dara'a and Quneitra provinces.

It has not been accepted by all opposition groups, and the Syrian government reserved the right to continue fighting what it called terrorist organisations across the country.

Several members of the rebel delegation to the talks left the room shouting in protest as the signing ceremony got under way in Astana on Thursday, angered by Iran's role.

By Saturday morning "relative calm" was reported in the four de-escalation zones by both government and opposition officials. If implemented, they would be the first during the country's civil war, which is now in its seventh year.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported there was "relative clam" Saturday morning in the "de-escalation zones" nine hours after the deal went into effect.

The deal calls on the warring parties to halt the use of all kinds of weapons in the designated "de-escalation zones", including air force flights.

The Observatory said government forces shelled and bombed the nearby town of Latamneh and surrounding areas.

United States and allied aircraft will be banned from flying over much of Syria as part of a deal struck by Iran, Russia and Turkey to foster a cease-fire in the Syrian war, a senior Russian diplomat said Friday.

The size of such a force is unclear, and its duties are murky, particularly without a United Nations mandate.

The Pentagon says the de-escalation agreement will not affect the USA -led air campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told VOA on Friday that "we certainly welcome any effort, any global effort to reduce the violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those areas of Syria that need them, and ultimately a political resolution to the ongoing crisis there".

The new deal was penned by Turkey, which backs the opposition, as well as Russian Federation and Iran, both supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Opposition delegates also said they would not recognise Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire plan.

Troops from the three countries are expected to secure four safe zones.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of Russia's General Staff told reporters on Friday that Russian officers planned to discuss the restoration of the agreement with their American counterparts soon.

Such zones, also referred to as non-conflict or safe zones, are meant to be areas where civilians can live without being targeted by any party in Syria's war.

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