US warplanes among those barred from flying over Syria’s ‘safe zones’ in proposal

May 4: Russian lead negotiator on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attend the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan (Reuters)

Fox News, May 5, 2017:

U.S. and coalition military planes will not be allowed to fly over designated “safe zones” in Syria under a Russian proposal that has the backing of Iran and Turkey, reports said Friday.

The reports did not indicate how the airspace would be enforced and the overall proposal appeared to be a work in progress.

Russian official Alexander Lavrentyev suggested in peace talks on Friday that all military aircraft — including Russian and Turkish — would also be barred from the designated zones. Under the Russian plan, President Bashar Assad’s air force would halt flights over the safe zones.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said “the operation of aviation in the de-escalation zones, especially of the forces of the international coalition, is absolutely not envisaged, either with notification or without. This question is closed.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he had a “very good” conversation over the phone with President Trump, and that his U.S. counterpart agreed to a proposal to establish Syrian safe zones to protect civilians in the war-torn country.

But the White House only confirmed that the two leaders discussed the safe zones, not that there were any agreements.

Reuters reported that countries such as Iran and Turkey have agreed on Moscow’s proposal for the “de-escalation zones.” The United Nations also welcomed the plan.

The proposal presented to the rebels in Astana delineates four zones in Syria where front lines between the government and rebels would be frozen and fighting halted, according to a statement made by the rebels. The four zones include areas in the provinces of Idlib and Homs, the eastern Ghouta suburbs outside Damascus, and an area in the south of the country.

The zones, according to the document received by rebels, would be monitored by international observers and allow for the voluntary return of refugees.

Late Wednesday, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Damascus is “fully backing” the Russian initiative on the four cease-fire areas, according to the state-run SANA news agency.

But Ahmed Ramadan, an opposition representative, told The Associated Press that rebels requested a written answer on a number of questions, including why the cease-fire would only be in effect in the four areas instead of a nationwide truce.

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