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UN Describes Astana Memorandum on Syrian Conflict as Positive

UN Describes Astana Memorandum on Syrian Conflict as Positive

UN Describes Astana Memorandum on Syrian Conflict as Positive

Russia expects Turkey to encourage the Syrian opposition to abide by the memorandum on de-escalation zones signed by the three guarantor countries on Thursday, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters on Friday.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, agreed to the deal Thursday, but members of the opposition delegation walked out on the talks rather than sign their agreement, according to state-run media reports from Turkey and Russian Federation.

The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories to the deal.

The United Nations' envoy for Syria is calling on the armed opposition's delegation to return to the talks underway in Kazakhstan where a proposal to establish safe zones in the country is a top issue.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said USA -led coalition aircraft would be able to operate against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in specific areas, but the "de-escalation zones" were now closed to their flights.

"We are not supporting this agreement".

Osama Abu Zeid, a spokesman for some of the rebel groups at the Astana talks, said in a statement that they had rejected the memorandum partly because creation of the zones implied a fragmentation of the country and the pact contained no guarantee of "the unity of the Syrian territory".

But the statement, by spokeswoman Heather Nauert, said that "we continue to have concerns" about the agreement, "including the involvement of Iran as a so-called 'guarantor.' " It added: "Iran's activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran's unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians".

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The United States gave an extremely cautious welcome on Thursday to Russian Federation and Turkey's plan to create safe zones to quell the Syrian civil war.

Analysts say that Moscow could be pushing the Assad regime to de-escalate the conflict and agree to the plan.

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 de-escalation.

The deal signed on Thursday will see "de-escalation zones" established in rebel-held Idlib province in the north, parts of Homs and Hama in the interior, Daraa in the south, and Ghouta in the Damascus suburbs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, also said that the Syrian air force stepped up strikes in the proposed de-escalation zones after their locations were revealed in a Russian draft proposal Wednesday.

Russia's plan for "de-escalation" zones was backed by Iran at the Kazakhstan talks.

Erdogan said in comments published Thursday that Moscow's plan to set up these zones in Syria would "50 percent" solve the six-year conflict.

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, the US and Russian presidents agreed to bolster diplomatic efforts to end Syria's six-year-old civil war.

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