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Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Mattis: US reviewing Syria safe zones but has many questions

Mattis: US reviewing Syria safe zones but has many questions

Mattis became the first high-ranking American official to make extensive comments on the safe zones, which are aimed at resolving the bloody conflict, raging in Syria since 2011.

A Russian Federation proposed "safe zone" plan to de-escalate the conflict in Syria went into effect on May 6, 2017. Iran, Assad's other major ally, also backed it.

The memorandum signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey last week setting up the de-escalation areas said that the forces of those countries would ensure the administration of security zones by consensus, but did not specifically mention military police. But under Thursday's deal, the entire province is designated to be one of the four "de-escalation zones".

Al-Moallem, using the Arabic acronym for IS, says: "I think that what the Syrian Kurds are doing in fighting Daesh is legitimate in the framework of their keenness on preserving the unity and integrity of Syrian territories".

Relief workers unload humanitarian aid in the rebel-held besieged Syrian town of Douma, Damascus, Syria May 3, 2017. Photo courtesy of Mohamad Abazeed/AFP.

A deal to create de-escalation zones in areas of conflict in western Syria went into effect Saturday. Another is the northern part of Homs province.

“As for [the coalition] actions in the de-escalation zones, starting from now those zones are closed for their flights, ” Aleksandr Levrentyev told journalists in the Kazakh capital.

On Sunday, advancing loyalist forces capture the village of Zalaqiyat, just south of al-Lataminah. Damascus has accepted the de-escalation plan but insists government forces will continue to battle "terrorism".

Russia, Turkey and Iran are to enforce the zones, but Russian general staff official Col. -Gen. The text of the memorandum was published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday.

The deal also calls for a continued fight against IS and former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, which could pose challenges. "People here believe different things; people are torn apart on whether to believe something this huge can happen or not", Atela, a resident in the Latakia suburbs, told Al Jazeera.

In rebel-held Idlib, a protest was held Friday against the plan, denounced as a plot to "divide Syria".

Russian Federation said that fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and al-Nusra Front will continue inside and around these zones.

For civilians, the lull in airstrikes provided relief.

Scores of Nigerian schoolgirls who were among more than 200 kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 have been released, multiple sources told AFP on Saturday, with unconfirmed reports that at least 80 have been freed. "People are weak, exhausted of death and bombing". "Since our government declared war on us, the whole world sat and watched". "Even our fragmented factions have betrayed us".

Iran's involvement in the de-escalation effort together with Russian Federation and Turkey is a particular concern, the USA statement noted: "Iran's activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran's unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians". Ghouta is part of the agreement, but Qaboun, which is only minutes away, is not?

Any clashes between the government forces and opposition armed groups must stop within the zones According to the memorandum, . "It could also help our economy", Anas said. "We expect Russian Federation to ensure regime compliance".

"We do not have any other options".

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