United States Wary of Russian-Led Coalition “Safe Zones” in Syria

Russian authorities have issued a statement in regards to a Safe Zone agreement within Syria borders whose stated mission was to safeguard both the opposition forces and the Syrian government from hostilities.  Agreed to by the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Iran, it was meant to be a small move in the direction of more stability in an area prone to horrific civil war.

Recently, Syria was accused of carrying out a chemical attack on its own people in a remote village that killed nearly 100 people and injured many others.  The sarin gas that was used in the attack was attributed to a military air base that was identified on previous occasions to have launched similar attacks.  In response, President Trump authorized a Tomahawk missile strike on that site to send a clear signal to the Syrian government and Assad himself that there would no longer be tolerance for violations of the Geneva Convention rules.

Russian officials immediately suspended the Safe Zone Agreement and continued to strike targets throughout Syria that were purported to be friendly to the resistance.  Russia disputes such claims and has attempted to reinstitute the agreement.

In talks with Turkey and Iran, as well as Syrian officials and resistance leaders, Russia has announced that it is re-enforcing the safe zones in Syria, for which the United States has yet to accede.

A distressing trend of nations directly involved with or who are members of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO) is beginning to take shape, where they appear to be attempting to match NATO forces in size and scope.  Already, there are military exercises taking place in areas of that region, but Russia and other member nations are downplaying its significance, claiming that the exercises are 100% focused on deterring terrorist activity in the region.

RT.com explains more about the plan:

The safe zones have been established in Syria's Idlib Governorate and parts of neighboring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces, the northern part of Homs province, Damascus' Eastern Ghouta neighborhood, and parts of southern Deraa and Quneitra provinces that border on Jordan.  The exact borders of the zones have yet to be demarked and agreed upon by the three guarantors of the plan.

Observation posts and checkpoints manned by the guarantors are to be established along the lines to monitor how well the deal is observed.  The first hours after the agreement came into force were marked by a reduced level of violence, but some violations have been reported.

The Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation said on Saturday that it had received reports that some jihadist groups were planning to “attempt to derail the memorandum,” but added that the Russian military is prepared to “eliminate any possible provocations by the terrorists.”

The deal offers no protection to terrorist groups such as Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL), which remain legitimate targets in Syria.  The armed opposition is expected to keep jihadists from using the zones as safe havens.  The memorandum also states that the three guarantors will “take all necessary measures to continue the fight” against the terrorists.

For the time being, the United Nations approves of this plan, of course.  U.S. officials are withholding comment on this agreement until more information can be gathered.

Source:  RT.com
Image: Wikicommons



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