Russia sends forces to bolster ceasefire in Syrian safe zones

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Moscow, July 25 (IANS) Russia has sent its military police to monitor the cessation of hostilities in “de-escalation” or safe zones in Syria, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

A total of four checkpoints and 14 observation posts have been set up around a safe zone in southwestern Syria and another near Damascus, said Sergei Rudskoy, head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff on Monday.

“These measures will support the ceasefire regime, facilitate the unhindered access of humanitarian supplies, and the return of refugees and temporarily displaced people,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

Russia informed the US, Jordan and Israel through military diplomatic channels in advance of the deployment, he added.

On May 4, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on the creation of four safe zones in Syria, aiming to ease tensions for at least six months in Syria, where the civil war is in the seventh year.

Russia started to participate in anti-terrorist operations in Syria in September 2015 and has withdrawn the majority of its troops from the war-torn country after the Syrian government and opposition groups reached a truce in late December 2016.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are working as mediators for the Astana peace talks for a political settlement of the Syrian crisis.

–IANS

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