Multinational forces could patrol Syria ‘de-escalation zones’: Turkey

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Smoke rises following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 22, 2017

Smoke rises following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 22, 2017

Smoke rises following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 22, 2017

Turkey on Thursday said multinational forces from differing sides in the Syria conflict could be deployed to ensure peace in so-called “de-escalation” zones aimed at ending the civil war.

Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed an accord on May 4 at peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana that would see four de-escalation regions set up across Syria.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the three countries now had a working group to thrash out the logistics for keeping the peace in the de-escalation zones.

He said that in the Idlib region of northern Syria the monitoring forces would be “mainly” Turkish and Russian troops.

Around Damascus, it would be “mainly Russia and Iran”, he added, quoted by Turkish media at a briefing for local reporters in Ankara.

In the southern Daraa region, Jordanian and American forces could be deployed, he said. Kalin did not mention who might be deployed around Homs, the other intended de-escalation zone.

Moscow had meanwhile suggested that Kyrgyz and Kazakh forces could also be involved, the spokesman added.

Kalin said the technical delegations were discussing the logistics and details of these zones.

“Who will be deployed and how? How will order be secured? Who will watch the process and how?” he said.

“Talks between Turkish, Russian and Iranian officials continue intensely. We are hopeful.”

The memorandum agreed during talks in Astana does not specify a start date for the implementation of the zones.

The zones do not cover the entire country and are located across eight of Syria’s 14 provinces. The Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria are notably left out.

It also remains to be seen how the Damascus regime and the United States will digest the proposals.

Turkey has since the onset of the Syrian conflict in 2011 been a staunch opponent of President Bashar al-Assad and backer of rebels seeking to oust him from power.

Russia and Iran, however, have been the Syrian president’s main international allies and provided military support for the Damascus regime.

Yet Russia and Turkey have since last late year worked closely together in a bid to end the fighting and lead the peace talks in search of a permanent solution to the conflict.

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