MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. Representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and the moderate Syrian opposition have reached an agreement on the third de-escalation zone north of the city of Homs, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"On July 31, a new round of talks between representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and the moderate Syrian opposition was held in Cairo," he said. "The meeting’s participants reached an agreement concerning the functioning of the third de-escalation zone north of the city of Homs, which will include 84 settlements with a population of more than 147,000," Konashenkov added.
The general pointed out that in early July, during the fifth round of talks in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana, a decision had been made to establish four de-escalation zones in Syria. Two of them - in southwest Syria and on the outskirts of Damascus (in Eastern Ghouta) - have already been set up.
A ceasefire in the third de-escalation zone will enter into force on August 3 starting from 12:00 p.m. local time, Konashenkov said.
"According to the reached agreement, today, on August 3, starting from 12:00 p.m. local time, armed units of the moderate opposition and government troops will cease fire from all weapons," he said.
"I would like to emphasize that, just like in the two previously set up de-escalation zones, the ceasefire in the Homs de-escalation zone will not apply to members of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terror groups [both outlawed in Russia - TASS]," Konashenkov added. "Moreover, in accordance with the agreement, the moderate opposition has pledged to drive all the units joining the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra out of the areas of the Homs Governorate that it controls," the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman said.
According to him, starting from August 4, Russian military police will establish two check points along the line of contact north of Homs, as well as three observation posts. Konashenkov said that military police were entrusted with the tasks of separating the opposing sides, monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire and ensuring the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as medical and casualty evacuation. "All the sick and wounded will be provided with an opportunity to undergo medical treatment either at the Russian military hospital or Syrian hospitals," Konashenkov noted.
"The opposition, in turn, will unblock the section of the Homs-Hama highway passing through the de-escalation zone," he added. According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, local councils will address the issues of everyday life in the de-escalation zone. Besides, a National Justice Committee is planned to be set up which will comprise "representatives of the opposition and all major ethnic, political and religious groups residing in the region," the Russian general added.
"Russia will continue its efforts aimed at restoring peace in Syria," Konashenkov said. He pointed out that in the past ten days, as many as 52 settlements had joined the ceasefire agreement, while Russia had carried out 41 humanitarian missions, providing more than 55 tonnes of food to Syrian civilians.