Plan to Create Safe Zones in Syria Signed

An agreement to set up “de-escalation zones” in Syria came into effect. The plan was agreed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran during Syria talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

The aim is to “put an immediate end to the violence” and “provide the conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees” as well as the immediate delivery of relief supplies and medical aid.

It envisions establishing four safe zones that would bring relief for hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and encourage refugees to return.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are to enforce the zones, but other countries could also participate.

The plan calls for all aircraft to be banned from flying over the safe zones. Syrian, Russian, Turkish and US-led coalition aircraft operate in overlapping areas across Syrian airspace.

The plan allows for Russia, Turkey and Iran to continue fighting ISIL, as well as al-Qaeda-affiliated groups inside the safe zones.

The latest round of Syrian peace talks in Astana was sponsored by opposition supporter Turkey and Syrian government backers Russia and Iran.

The United Nations, the United States and Saudi Arabia have welcomed the deal.

With the airspace closed over these so-called safe areas, they would become de facto no-fly zones. Previous regions considered for no-fly zones were the border areas with Jordan and Turkey.

Syria’s civil war, currently in its seventh year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and has drawn in world powers on all sides.