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De-escalation zones in Idlib, Homs, south of Syria prove effective - Lavrov

"The level of violence has decreased", Russia’s Foreign Minister said

MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. De-escalation zones in the Syrian regions of Idlib, Homs and the country’s south have proved effective, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Kazakh President’s TV and radio broadcasting company released on the ministry’s website on Saturday.

"Obviously, the level of violence has decreased. The de-escalation zone in the south, which has been formed concurrently with the Astana process, with our colleagues from Jordan and the US involved, has proved effective. In the Idlib province, everything is going in the right direction, I think. Turkish colleagues are finally completing to set up a required number of observation posts, which will allow monitoring the military landscape. The Homs zone is also working more or less successfully," he said.

Meanwhile, Lavrov added, the de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta is currently controlled by the terrorist organization outlawed in Russia, Jebhat al-Nusra, which "has usurped armed groups that were meant to become part of the negotiation process."

"They have created a joint command, and in fact, three groups - Faylaq al-Rahman, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham - started to go with Jebhat al-Nusra, which has been described by the UN Security Council as a terrorist organization. Our officers were actively helping the Syrian representatives to contact those three groups in order to get them shun terrorists," he said. "It took long for this process to start, currently some hope has emerged that those armed groups will shun Jebhat al-Nusra," Lavrov added.

Last September, Russia, Iran and Turkey acting as the guarantors of the Astana process declared four de-escalation zones in Syria had been agreed: in the southwest of the country, in Eastern Ghouta (a Damascus suburb) and near the city of Homs. The fourth zone embraces the Idlib province and parts of the neighboring provinces of Aleppo, Latakia and Hama.