UN Secretary General welcomes Astana agreement on safe zones in Syria

U.N. Special Envoy for Syria de Mistura speaks to media during fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana

Midway through the closing ceremony of the fourth round of Syrian peace talks on Thursday, as delegates from Russia, Turkey and Iran prepared to sign an agreement that would create "de-escalation zones" in Syria, a Syrian rebel fighter stood up.

The opposition has protested Iran's participation at the conference, accusing it of being a party in the war that's killed some 400,000 people.

On Thursday, Russia, the top supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, won agreement for a comprehensive draft of a proposal that would pause fighting in four areas of the country, starting on Saturday, with worldwide troops acting as monitors to the cease-fire.

But Nauert said that Washington "appreciated the efforts" of the other guarantors - Russian Federation and Turkey - to defuse the situation.

Black pointed to real safe zones in Syria, which are not in the areas that are controlled by terrorists.

Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is also reportedly circulating a proposal for safe zones.

"If this (negotiating) table does not lead to solutions, we will return to the gun", he said.

Under the Russian plan, safe zones would be established in rebel-held territory in the north-western province of Idlib, in parts of Homs province in the centre, in the south, and in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, the AFP news agency reported.

The ministry pointed out that signing a pact on Thursday on the creation of so-called de-escalation zones where Syrian government and opposition forces would not be allowed to engage, became the main outcome of the negotiations.

It remained unclear whether there would be any worldwide monitoring of the safe zones.

Syria's armed opposition on Thursday rejected a Russian plan to create safe zones in Syria, calling it a threat to the country's territorial integrity, and said it would also not recognise Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire plan.

Abdrakhmanov said that next round of talks in Astana would be held in mid-July.

"The secretary-general welcomes the commitments to ceasing the use of all weapons, particularly aerial assets; to rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access; and to creating conditions for the delivery of medical aid and meeting civilians' basic needs", said a statement issued here by United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

De Mistura said details of the Astana agreement would become clearer in the next two weeks, adding that the United Nations was "very supportive" of the deal.

Lavrentyev, whose remarks were carried by Russian news agencies, said USA -led coalition aircraft would be able to operate against the Islamic State group in specific areas, but the "de-escalation zones" were now closed to their flights.

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