UN welcomes US-Russia agreement on Syria ceasefire

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Damascus, July 8 (IANS) The ceasefire agreement reached between the US and Russia to quell fighting in southwest Syria is a “step in the right direction”, Deputy UN Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy said here on Saturday.

Ramzy told the media that the agreement reached on Friday for creating the de-escalation zones in southwest Syria is also an important development, adding that the UN supports the efforts to de-escalate violence in Syria, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The agreement to create de-escalation zones in southern Syria… is an important development. The UN always aims to de-escalate tension and this is a step in the right direction. We hope that the other areas that have been discussed to be included in the de-escalation zones deal to reach similar agreement soon and that will support the political process,” he said.

A day earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the agreement, if it holds, may be a blueprint for other parts of the country. “This area in the south is our first show of success. We hope we can replicate that elsewhere,” he said.

Tillerson said there were more details to be discussed on the Russian side regarding who will provide the security forces to observe the ceasefire in that part, adding that such details will be finalised within a week.

The de-escalation zones deal was established in Syria last May, with Russia, Iran and Turkey signing the deal.

The US had no apparent role in the deal, which included four zones that will be included, namely Homs, Idlib, Daraa and Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus.

The deal held up relatively well in Idlib, but in Daraa in southern Syria the situation became tense recently with renewed battles between the Syrian army and the rebels, which prompted Russia and the US to reach the agreement for southwestern Syria, which includes Daraa and Qunaitera near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Qunaitera witnessed intense battles between the Syrian army and the rebels. Also, Israel struck Syrian military positions several times over the past two weeks.

The Syrian government has not officially commented on the new US-Russian agreement.

–IANS

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