Russia, Iran Bear Responsibility for Observance of Syria Safe Zones Agreement

Russia, Iran and Turkey signed the safe zone agreement on Thursday, saying the point is to cease fighting and establish an "uninterrupted flow" of emergency and humanitarian aid to the areas outlined, according to the WSJ.

It also called on the US and other Arab allied countries, to take "firm stances" to prevent the implementation of the deal.

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, criticised the plan as vague and illegitimate.

Syria's government has said that although it will abide by the agreement, it would continue fighting "terrorism" wherever it exists, parlance for most armed rebel groups fighting government troops.

The Russian defence ministry had said the agreement would come into force as of midnight on Friday. The "de-escalation zone" agreement does not include the Islamic State. Clashes erupted in the area after ISIS targeted a refugee camp in a coordinated suicide assault. "Despite these violations, we can still say that hostilities have dropped", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

A rebel commander said the general level of violence was reduced, but added: "Regime attempts (to advance) in the Hama countryside continue".

Russian Federation and Iran have backed Assad during the conflict.

Iran and Russian Federation have been among the strongest backers of Assad while Turkey is a main supporter of opposition groups that have been trying to remove him from power.

There was no immediate comment from the USA military or from the Trump administration, which sent a representative, Stuart E. Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state, to the talks.

There are approximately 180,000 civilians in this zone and its network of rebel groups includes al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

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"The bombardment has not stopped, it is no different from before", he told Reuters.

Then there is the question of who will protect the safe zones. The text of the memorandum was published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday.

The safe zones will remain in place for six months, the Kremlin has said. Weaponry and air strikes were not to be used in those zones by combatants, the text said.

The Astana talks were meant to shore up an oft-violated ceasefire which was originally agreed in December.

On Thursday, as the agreement was being signed in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, some members of the Syrian opposition delegation shouted in protest and walked out of the conference room.

The "de-escalation zones" will be closed to military aircraft from the US -led coalition, the Russian official who signed the agreement, Alexander Lavrentye, said Friday.

Russia, Turkey and Iran will still be permitted to fight terrorist groups within the safe zones, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by dpa.

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, described the agreement as "an important promising positive step in the right direction" toward a halt in the fighting. The not party to the agreement and the Syrian rivals have not signed on to the deal. They're in northern Syria in territory covering parts of the provinces of Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama, as well as the north of Homs province, the east Ghouta suburb of the capital Damascus and in southern Syria on the border with Jordan.

According to both Syrian opposition activists and government media outlets on Saturday, there were no immediate reports of casualties after a memorandum signed by Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation, the three countries behind peace efforts in Syria, took effect at the stroke of midnight local time on Saturday (2100 GMT on Friday).

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