Double faced Russia announces deal on safe zone in Syria’s Homs
The Russian army says it has reached a deal with foreign-backed militants in Syria to create a new de-escalation zone in the country’s northern parts of Homs province.
Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov made the announcement on Thursday, saying that new safe zone will span 84 towns and villages populated by more than 147,000 people in Homs.
The official noted that a ceasefire was to take effect in the area at 12:00 p.m. local time (0900 GMT) on Thursday.
The zone is the third to be established in Syria under a Russian-led initiative aimed at halting clashes in four key conflict zones between Syrian government forces and anti-Damascus militants.
Last Saturday, the warring sides agreed on a deal declaring Eastern Ghouta as a de-escalation zone.
Russia, along with Iran and Turkey, brokered the deal for establishing four de-escalation zones in mainly militant-held areas of Syria during ceasefire talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana in May.
The plan, which came into effect at midnight on May 5, calls for the cessation of hostilities between militant groups and Syrian government forces.
It covers the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, northeastern areas of the western coastal province of Latakia, western areas of Aleppo province and northern parts of Hama province.
The parties to the Astana talks are now working on the details of the deal.
Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.