MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Decisions on the de-escalation zones in Syria adopted at the talks in Astana are related to Washington’s initiatives on putting an end to violence in Syria put forward at the beginning of this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the MIR TV network on Saturday.
"The United States proposed at the beginning of this year, with a view to creating conditions to ensure safety of civilian population, to stop violence in those regions where fierce fighting was underway between government and armed opposition forces," Russia’s top diplomat said.
"It is not by chance that the United States welcomed the results of the meeting in Astana, specifically, an agreement on setting up de-escalation zones," he noted.
The memorandum on setting de-escalation zones was signed in Astana on Thursday by Russia’s chief negotiator, Russian Presidential Envoy on the Syrian Settlement Alexander Lavrentiev, Deputy Undersecretary for the Middle East and Africa at the Turkish Foreign Ministry Sedat Onal and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
The de-escalation zones will be set up in four regions of Syria, namely, in the Idlib province and some parts of the neighboring provinces (Aleppo, Latakia and Hama), the area north of Homs, the suburb of Damascus East Ghouta and some provinces in Syria’s southern parts - Daraa and Quneitra. Safe zones will be established at the borders of the areas where checkpoints for the passage of civilians and humanitarian aid and ceasefire monitoring points will be installed.
A ban on military operations, including aviation flights, will be imposed in the de-escalation zones as of May 6. Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed to take all necessary steps to fight against terrorism both in these areas and beyond.
The countries acting as ceasefire guarantors will set up a joint working group on de-escalation ten days after signing the memorandum. It will deal with defining the boundaries of the de-escalation zones and safe zones, among other issues. The maps of the designated areas will be drafted by May 27.
The memorandum is to be in force for six months with the possibility of automatic extension for the same period. According to Lavrentiev, the document could become indefinite.