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Syria’s de-escalation zones to be closed to US-led coalition aircraft, envoy says

The memorandum on de-escalation zones does not mention this, but flights are halted above these territories, the Russian diplomat has noted

ASTANA, May 5. /TASS/. The planned de-escalation zones in Syria will be closed to the US-led coalition’s aviation, the head of Russia’s delegation and the president’s special envoy for Syrian settlement, Alexander Lavrentyev, said.

"The case is that in the de-escalation zones the work of aviation, especially the coalition forces, is absolutely not envisaged, with or without notification," he stressed.

"This issue is off the table now."

"The only place where the coalition’s aviation can operate is certainly on targets of the Islamic State (terrorist group, outlawed in Russia)," the envoy said. "The aviation is located in the area of concentration of forces of this group near Raqqa and other settlements, near the Euphrates and Deir ez-Zor."

"As for their actions in the de-escalation zones, currently all of them are closed for their flights," the head of Russia’s delegation stressed.

The memorandum on de-escalation zones does not mention this, but flights are halted above these territories, he said. "As guarantors, we will thoroughly monitor all actions along this course," Lavrentyev vowed.

The UNSC support 

The United Nations Security Council’s permission is not necessary for setting up de-escalation zones in Syria, but Moscow expects the Council to support this decision, Lavrentyev emphasized. 

According to the Russian diplomat, the Astana process serves as an independent mechanism for making decisions and monitoring their implementation.

"This is why the three guarantor countries (Russia, Turkey and Iran) are enough to implement the agreements," the Russian diplomat added. "The United Nations Security Council’s permission is not necessary," he said.

"I believe, as guarantor countries, we will inform the United Nations Security Council on the decisions that we made, first and foremost, on the memorandum for setting up de-escalation zones," the envoy said. "I am sure that the UN Security Council member states, as well as the United Nations members, will support this decision."

Khan Sheikhoun incident a 'provocation' 

Moscow has irrefutable evidence that the April 4 incident in Khan Sheikhoun is a provocation:

"There are a lot of people and forces, who are interested in provoking any side into carrying out some illegal actions, which will then trigger a retaliatory negative response on the part of the international community," the diplomat said. "A lot of provocations."

"Speaking about the events in Khan Sheikhoun, Russia has irrefutable evidence that this is a pure provocation by structures, which are not interested in achieving peace on Syrian soil," Lavrentyev noted.

All explanations and arguments have been completely brushed aside by the West, he said. 

"Nevertheless, we will work further along these lines and try to convince them so that the countries could somehow change their position towards the Syrian government, which they still consider to be illegitimate," the diplomat stated.