The Latest: Turkey, Russia, Iran to coordinate zones

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BEIRUT — The Latest on Syria developments (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to set up a co-ordination center to monitor the implementation of “de-escalation” zones in Syria.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said Friday that the three countries had agreed to establish the new body during the latest round of Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana, according to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. The new center will help to establish the make-up of the forces to police the zones.

Abdrakhmanov also said that a seventh round of talks in Astana was planned for the end of October.

Russia, Iran and Turkey have co-sponsored talks with opposition fighters and the Syrian government in Astana to negotiate local cease-fires and de-escalation zones, which have contributed to a reduction of fighting in the country.

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2:05 p.m.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry says Turkey, Russia and Iran have announced the establishment of a “de-escalation” zone in Syria’s northern province of Idlib.

A ministry statement said Friday the decision was reached by the three countries’ delegations during a meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

The ministry said observers from the three nations would be deployed at “control and observation” points within the boundaries of the zone.

The statement says: “The observer forces’ main task will be to prevent conflicts between the regime and the opposition and to monitor possible violations of the cease fire.”

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11:55 a.m.

An observer group says intense clashes are ongoing in the Syrian central province of Hama between pro-government forces and members of the Islamic State group.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in central Syria against IS for weeks under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting is concentrated in the Okeirbat area that government forces regained control of on Thursday.

The Observatory said Friday that more than two weeks of fighting left hundreds dead on both sides.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported the clashes saying IS positions are being targeted with artillery and rockets.

IS said in a statement posted online that it repelled a government attack near the village of Sheikh Hilal, claiming to have killed 11 soldiers.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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