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Russia-brokered safe zones deal restores relative calm to Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Syrian children pose for a photo near their house in the town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on May 6, 2017 after the implementation of a de-escalation agreement. (Photo by AFP)

Relative calm has been reported across most parts of Syria after a deal to set up de-escalation zones in the war-ravaged country went into effect.

According to both Syrian opposition activists and government media outlets on Saturday, there were no immediate reports of casualties after a memorandum signed by Turkey, Iran and Russia, the three countries behind peace efforts in Syria, took effect at the stroke of midnight local time on Saturday (2100 GMT on Friday). The co-sponsors have until June 4 to finalize the zones' borders.

The Syrian Central Military Media reported that there was "relative calm" Saturday morning in the de-escalation zones, nine hours after the deal went into force.

Some opposition sources claimed there were limited reports of sporadic incidents of confrontation in northern Homs and Hama and the southern province of Dara'a, but said there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The deal on de-escalation zones was signed during the fourth round of the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on Thursday.

Iranian ِِDeputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari (C) attends the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana on May 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Moscow on Wednesday put forward the idea of setting up safe zones in four areas in northern, central and southern Syria, where the most intense fighting is underway between the Syrian government and different militant groups.

The four safe regions are situated across eight of Syria's 14 provinces. The first zone includes the northwestern province of Idlib, the western province of Latakia, the western-central province of Hama, and the northern province of Aleppo.

The four zones are only safe for the so-called armed opposition factions and exclude the Takfiri terrorist groups of Daesh and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

The deal is the latest effort to resolve the Syrian crisis, which has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people since it broke up in March 2011. 

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