The de-escalation zones deal, signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, went into effect in Syria at midnight on Saturday, media reports said.

Earlier on Friday, Russian media reports cited Russia’s head of the main operational directorate of Russia’s military, as saying that the agreement brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran to establish “de-escalation zones” in main battlefields in Syria will go into force at midnight on Saturday.

According to the agreement, the government and opposition forces will halt fighting for six months in four zones: the northwestern province of Idlib, the central province of Homs, the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus and areas in the Daraa and Qunaitera provinces in southern Syria, local al-Watan online newspaper reported.

Under the deal, the safe zones, or de-escalation zones, will be free of battles and airstrikes.

On Thursday evening during the Astana talks, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum on the creation of four or more safe zones in Syria.

“The cease-fire guarantor states announce that the memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria provides the creation of security zones to stop violence, improve humanitarian situation and create conditions for the advancement of the process and political settlement of the Syrian conflict,” Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.

The deal excludes the terror-designated groups such as the Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, as the battles against those groups will continue, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Wednesday, Syria’s Foreign Ministry announced the acceptance of the Syrian government to the safe zone plan. However, some factions of the Syrian opposition refused to accept it, saying the pact threatens Syria’s territorial integrity.

First Published | 6 May 2017 7:50 AM
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