Astana talks concludes with progress on de-escalation zones in Syria

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Astana, Sep 16 (IANS) The guarantor nations of the Syrian ceasefire — Russia, Turkey and Iran — announced in the Kazakh capital the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria that are to be in force for at least six months.

“We have declared the creation of de-escalation areas in eastern Ghouta, in certain areas of northern Homs, in Idlib province and in certain areas of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces, and some areas of southern Syria,” reads the final declaration of the Astana-6 peace talks on Friday.

The document states that the zones “are a temporary measures that will initially last six months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus among the guarantor countries”, Efe news reported.

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The talks were also attended by the Syrian Government and armed opposition.

Despite opposition from the anti-Damascus side, Iranian forces are to take part in efforts to uphold the terms of the agreement reached on Friday following two days of talks in Kazakhstan.

The head of the Syrian opposition delegation Fateh Hassoun told a press conference that the armed groups did not agree with Iran’s role in the ceasefire.

“We have a stance on the presence of Iran as a guarantor. We do not agree with that role,” Hassoun said.

Rebel leader Yasser Abdul Raheem was more determined.

“We will not accept Iran’s participation even if they wear the UN’s blue helmets,” he said.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrajmanov announced that the next round of the Astana Process is planned for October.

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