UN: Security zones in Syria an encouraging agreement, but it needs to be verified
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appreciates the commitment of Russia, Turkey and Iran to try to "end" the use of weapons. Four de-escalation areas. They will remain in force for at least six months. But the Syrian delegation and the rebels’ representatives in Astana refuse to sign. In Sochi Turkey and Russia relaunch bilateral cooperation.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "encouraged" by yesterday's agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey, under which "security zones" will be set up in effort to promote a "de-escalation" of the conflict in Syria. "It will be crucial to see this agreement actually improve the lives of Syrians," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
The governments of Moscow, Tehran and Ankara at the conclusion of the peace talks yesterday in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, signed a document that sanctions the creation of four security zones. This is a further step in the direction of the ceasefire that came into effect at the end of December.
The agreement includes a ceasefire, a ban on overflying, the immediate supply of humanitarian aid and the return of refugees. The areas affected will be implemented June 4 and cover parts of the Homs province, in the center of the country, in the south and in the Ghouta enclave, and east of the capital.
Aware of the positive outcome of the negotiations, the UN Secretary-General expressed "appreciation" for the commitment shown in trying to "put an end to the use of all weapons, especially air raids" and the rapid provision of medical and humanitarian aid.
The United Nations is in favor of a de-escalation of the conflict, as pointed out by the UN Special Envoy for Siria Staffan de Mistura, present at Astana talks. For de Mistura, the deal is "an important, positive and promising step in the right direction" in the context of a conflict that flared up in March 2011 and which has caused 320,000 deaths so far.
The US opinion is more cautious, expressing doubts about Iran's role but also hope that the deal may point to a further stage in negotiations. Within the next two weeks a working group will be called to solve technical issues.
Diplomatic sources in talks in the capital of Kazakhstan say that "security zones" will remain in force "for the next six months with the possibility of further extension." However, the agreement was not signed either by the Damascus delegation nor by the rebels spokesmen in Astana. Oussama Abou Zeid, spokesman for the rebels, said that "Iran is the guarantor of the agreement".
In the meantime, the Sochi summit on the Black Sea, concluded between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Both, while supporting different fronts in the context of the Syrian conflict and starting from opposing views, have stressed the desire to continue on the path of peace.
The leader of the Kremlin said that relations between Moscow and Ankara are "fully restored" after a period of turmoil as a result of the shooting down of a Russian jet by the Turkish army on the Syrian border. Confirming the new partnership, trade agreements were signed by the two governments and the lifting of certain sanctions on Turkish agricultural products such as wheat and sunflower oil.