Russia: Syria deal bans US-led coalition aircraft

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 agreement would create four zones in northern Syria where fighting would stop by Saturday to provide civilians a place to congregate to escape the violence and receive food and medical attention.

The agreement, hammered out in the Kazakh capital, Astana, would bring about an end to the fighting in those areas using "any type of weapons", while guaranteeing unfettered access to humanitarian aid and restoring basic services.

Many of Assad's opponents in the conflict say the Syrian government has no credibility to honor any cease-fire agreement because it has violated all previous such pacts since the conflict began in March 2011.

ASTANA Syria's armed opposition said on Thursday it could not accept creating safe zones in Syria because it threatens the country's territorial integrity and said it would also not recognize Iran as a guarantor of the peace plan.

The zones delineated in the agreement are in areas where rebel factions, excluding Islamic State, hold sway.

But the Pentagon said the de-escalation agreement will not affect the US -led air campaign against the Islamic State group.

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.

The first zone includes the whole of Idlib province along with certain parts of neighboring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces.

Lavrentyev said that under the plan Russian Federation could send observers to safe zones.

"We can not accept it to act as a guarantor", Abu Zaid said in a press conference.

Russian Federation and Iran have been backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey backs Syrian rebels.

"It will be crucial to see this agreement actually improve the lives of Syrians". However, Lavrentiev said Russian Federation would do everything possible to ensure Syria's air force would be grounded. The latter group, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, has changed its name to the Organization for the Liberation of Syria but is still widely known as the Nusra Front.

"In light of the failures of past agreements", Nauert's statement said, "we have reason to be cautious".

Osama Abo Zayd, a spokesman for the Syrian military factions in Astana said the zones raise "a number of questions", adding that Moscow still has no answers on how to deal with any violations from its ally Damascus or from Iran, which has a number of fighters on the ground in Syria on the government's side.

  • Tracy Klein