Russia, Turkey, Iran make progress on Syria de-escalation zones talks

Kristopher Drake
July 8, 2017

Russian president Vladimir Putin met in person for the first time USA president Donald Trump in Germany.

The cease-fire is set to take effect July 9 at noon Damascus time.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have signed a deal - endorsed by the UN Security Council - to establish so-called "de-escalation zones" in several parts of Syria. Tillerson appeared to be trying to influence those talks ahead of time, despite deeply troubled U.S.

That means that the Syrian autocrat would not be able to reoccupy the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group's stronghold in the city of Raqqa without some sort of agreement between all parties.

Obama wanted to limit America's involvement in Syria's civil war. On Wednesday, he said the United States remained open to cooperating with Russian Federation in Syria through "joint mechanisms", potentially including no-fly zones.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that Israel told the US that it doesn't want Russia supervising proposed safe zones in Syria during ongoing talks being conducted between the US, Russia and Jordan.

The three countries will continue to hold talks on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria, the statement said, adding that the next round of peace talks will be held at the end of August in Astana.

Tillerson warned the Syrian regime, which is backed by Iran as well as Russian Federation, against taking advantage of America's limited focus by moving into areas freed from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Russia's proposal may well be the only path to a negotiated settlement between the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and the Sunni Arab opposition, but the safe zones are far from ready for the return of refugees.

Citing past cooperation in creating de-escalation zones in Syria, Tillerson made a strong case for both countries - in spite of their "unresolved differences on a number of issues" - to work together in Syria.

Tillerson has said Syria's future is one without Assad in power. Both the USA and Russian Federation oppose Islamic State militants and say they're focused on rooting out the extremist group. And after the USA shot down the Syrian plane, Russian Federation warned it would start considering us -led coalition aircraft over Syria as potential targets.

"The Syrian people should determine their country's political future through a political process", the official added. Trump's administration has approached the notoriously strained relationship by trying to identify a few limited issues on which the countries could make progress, thereby building trust for a broader fix of ties.

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