Saturday, 6 May 2017

"No fly' zone for US coalition in Syria

Safe zones in Syria will be ‘No Fly’ zones for US coalition

5 May, 2017

US-led coalition warplanes banned from Syria safe zones – Russian envoyfrom Russia Today, Moscow

The US has been useless in preventing jihadi atrocities, such as the refugee-convoy bombing
[ Editor’s Note: This was a strange twist of fate, but not a surprising one. The US has officially been out of the Astana talks, and not unfairly so. That is because during the two previous ceasefires, the US failed to separate its opposition forces from Al-Nusra and ISIS, or else Turkey and the Gulf State-US coalition members refused to do so.
Nor do we forget the US bombing of Syrian positions in Deir Ezzor, which were quickly followed by an ISIS attack to capture a strategic hill. Russia’s calls on the de-confliction hotline went unanswered, with no one apparently on duty at the US end of the line. It was a cheap move by the US, and one that burned up any chances of another joint ceasefire with Russia.
But this act today was basically for show, as the US has not been bombing much in Idlib for fear of hitting all the coalition officers that are in the jihadi command centers. The US will not be the big threat to these safe zones, but not having proper, enforceable procedures in place will be.
That will come from the details not mentioned in the Astana agreement. How, once again, are the opposition forces and terrorists going to be separated? Is a database going to be built up of all their respected IDs and fingerprints? Once the various forces are separated and refugees begin returning, what provisions will be made to prevent jihadi re-infiltration?
What will prevent weapons and ammo from continuing to flow into these areas hidden inside the Turkish humanitarian convoy trucks? Are all ammo dumps going to be surrendered, including all the TOWS? Inquiring minds would love to know… Jim W. Dean ]
Jim’s Editor’s Notes are solely crowdfunded via PayPal –
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First published  …  May 05,  2017 –
The four safe zones to be established in Syria will be closed for flights by US-led coalition warplanes, said the Russian envoy to the Astana peace talks, where the zones were agreed upon.
As for [the coalition] actions in the de-escalation zones, starting from now those zones are closed for their flights,” Aleksandr Levrentyev told journalists in the Kazakh capital.
He added that the flight ban was not part of the memorandum establishing the safe zones, but assured the coalition would not fly over them.
As guarantors we will be tracking all actions in that direction,” he remarked. Absolutely no flights, especially by the international coalition, are allowed. With or without prior notification. The issue is closed.”
He added that the US-led coalition would continue airstrikes near Raqqa, the Syrian stronghold of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), near some towns near the Euphrates River and close to the city of Deir ez-Zor.
The Russian Foreign Ministry was less definitive on the alleged ban of US warplanes, stating that these issues are being discussed at the military level.”
On Thursday, a memorandum was signed in Astana establishing four “safe zones” in Syria, where so-called “moderate opposition” fighters are expected to stay safe from airstrikes and keep jihadist groups out. The zones are set in provinces of Idlib, Latakia and Homs, as well as parts of Aleppo.
Russia, Iran and Turkey serve as guarantors of the arrangement, which carries hopes of deescalating violence in the war-torn country.
The move was cheered by the United Nations and welcomed with reservations by Washington.*

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Safe zones in Syria come into force: Here’s what we know about them

Safe zones in Syria come into force: Here’s what we know about them

5 May, 2017

The Russian-proposed safe zones in Syria – where no fighting between the government and opposition is allowed – came into force at 21:00 GMT May 5. RT sums up what’s already known about the initiative aimed at resolving the conflict in the country.

The safe or de-escalation zones in Syria are described as a temporary measure which will be enforced for the next six months with the possibility of extending it for another six.

The safe zones were agreed by the guarantor-states – Russia, Iran and Turkey – during negotiations in the Kazakh capital, Astana Thursday. All parties expressed hope that the initiative will lead the way for the settlement of the conflict.

4 zones

The four safe zones are established in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and parts of neighboring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces; in the northern part of Homs province; in the Damascus neighborhood of Eastern Ghouta, and in parts of southern Deraa and Quneitra provinces bordering Jordan.

© RT

Syrian government forces and the armed opposition will be prevented from fighting each other and carrying out airstrikes within the safe zones by means of security buffers, checkpoints and observation posts controlled by the guarantor states.

Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to prepare maps that will separate the areas controlled by the so-called “moderate opposition” from the territories held by the jihadists and provide precise safe zone demarcation by June 4.

Airspace over safe zones

Russian Aerospace Forces have already, on May 1 paused their airstrikes in the areas demarcated as safe zones, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
The airspace over the safe zones may also be closed for the planes of the US-led coalition, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry saying the issue is being negotiated between the Russian and American militaries.

Fighting terrorists

Around 42,000 opposition fighters currently remain on the territory of the four security zones, with the majority of the militants located in Idlib (14,500) and near the Jordanian border (15,000), according to Russian estimates.

The establishment of safe zones doesn’t mean that the fight against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups will stop in the country. On the contrary, the move will allow Syria to free additional forces to tackle the jihadists, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

The Syrian government supported the implementation of the safe zones in the country and confirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism.

Opposition compliance under question

There’s no certainty over the opposition’s compliance with the initiative as the representatives of the militants walked out from the signing ceremony in Astana, claiming, they won’t accept Iran as a guarantor state.

International reaction

The United Nations has welcomed the establishment of the safe zones, with UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, expressing hope that it’ll improve the lives of the population and UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hailing the initiative as a step in the right direction.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he understood from a phone call with his  US counterpart Donald Trump, that the US administration supports the idea of safe zones in Syria. The State Department said it appreciated “the efforts of Turkey and the Russian Federation to pursue this agreement and have encouraged the Syrian opposition to participate actively in the discussions”. It, however, expressed concerns over Iran’s participation in the initiative.

Syria Safe Zones Declared: Will The Killing Finally End?


Early today, Russia, Iran, and Turkey signed an agreement to establish "de-escalation" zones at four locations in Syria. The plan is supposed to separate the "moderate" rebels from the extremists and allow citizens to receive humanitarian aid. What will the US do?

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