Conflict De-escalation Zones to be Set Up in Syria

UN vehicles travel along a road lined with remnants of destroyed buildings, Homs, Syria. (file) Photo: UNICEF / UNI178367/ Tiku
UN vehicles travel along a road lined with remnants of destroyed buildings, Homs, Syria. (file) Photo: UNICEF / UNI178367/ Tiku

Following the signing of a deal on Thursday to setup the ‘de-escalation zones’ in Syria, the United Nations (UN) envoy for the war-torn country praised the agreement and said its success could bolster the path towards peace talks.

“Today in Astana I think we have been able to witness an important, promising and positive step in the right direction in the process of de-escalation of the conflict,” said Staffan de Mistura, according to a UN statement.

Mr. de Mistura is in Astana as an observer to the latest round of the Astana talks aimed to bolster the ceasefire regime brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran in late December 2016.

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While details of the de-escalation agreement between the three guarantor parties have not been made public, according to the UN, expectations have been raised that it will lead to greater humanitarian access for the 6.3 million Syrians still living in the country.

Mr. de Mistura said that “if and when” the de-escalation agreement becomes concrete, it would be “conducive and helping” the intra-Syrian discussions.

The intra-Syrian talks taking place in Geneva, held in parallel to the Astana talks, aim for a political solution to the six-year conflict.

Mr. de Mistura said that the three guarantor countries, plus Jordan and US, have been discussing humanitarian demining in Syria and the issue of detainees, missing people and abductees.

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Rakesh Raman