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MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied Western media reports on alleged fighting between Syrian governmental and opposition units in the Hama region after the agreement on de-escalation zones came into force.
"By the end of the first day after the memorandum of understanding on establishing de-escalation zones came into force, all the warring sides are assessing the situation as stable," the ministry said.
Nevertheless, in early hours of Saturday, at about 1.00 am Moscow Time (10.00 pm GMT) Syrian government units came under gunfire near the village of Zellakiyat. Without retaliation, the servicemen filed an urgent request with the Turkish side through the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides. They asked whether those were terrorist groups or armed opposition units.
After the Turkish side had confirmed those were Jabhat al-Nusra units, the terrorists’ firing points were suppressed.
On May 4, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria. Under a memorandum signed at the talks in Astana, the four zones are Idlib province and some parts of neighboring provinces (Aleppo, Latakia and Hama), an area north of Homs, Damascus’s suburb Eastern Ghouta, and a number of provinces in southern Syria - Daraa and Al-Quneitra.
In those areas, combat operations, including flights by military aircraft, are outlawed as of May 6. The memorandum was concluded for six months with chances of automatic prolongation for another six months. Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that the fight against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (outlawed in Russia - TASS) would be continued inside and around those zones.