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Guarantors Disagree on Borders of De-escalation Zones in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Internally displaced people who fled Raqqa city carry their belongings as they leave a camp in Ain Issa, Raqqa Governorate, Syria May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the memorandum on de-escalation zones during phone calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

Meanwhile, NATO declared it had joined forces to combat ISIS as the leaders of Group of Seven (G7) urged Russia and Iran to influence Syrian regime to ensure implementation of ceasefire.

During the phone call, Putin and Erdogan confirmed their mutual desire for a deepening of the strategic partnership between their two countries, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Kremlin’s statement added that both leaders reiterated the importance of prompt agreement on the practical aspects of the memorandum on de-escalation zones in Syria.

“This would make it possible to enhance the ceasefire regime, and increase the effectiveness of the intra-Syrian talks in the Geneva and Astana formats. It was agreed to step up the coordination of efforts on these issues at different levels,” it stated.

Putin also held a phone call with Iran’s Hassan Rouhani in which the two leaders stressed the need for more joint efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and discussed economic ties.

Kremlin added that both leaders agreed that it is important to step up joint efforts to facilitate the political and diplomatic settlement of the conflict, particularly within the framework of the Astana process and through the implementation of the memorandum on the creation of de-escalation areas in Syria.

Observers believe that Putin may be coordinating his moves with the guarantor countries prior to his talks with French President Emanuel Macron.

An informed source told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the borders of the zones are being planned according to the memo, but there are certain complicated points that need to be agreed upon.

The source added that the main issue to be solved is for all guarantor countries to reach an agreement among themselves, and then with the Syrian regime concerning which countries will be monitoring the implementation of the memo.

Egypt may be one of the countries sending troops to the de-escalation zones, according to the source who expects the issue to be discussed during Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and Defense Sergei Shoygu visit to Egypt on Monday.

The Russian ministers will hold talks with their Egyptian counterparts and will meet with the Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi.

Russia continues its attempts to assert its role in countering terrorism in Syria. On Saturday, Russian airstrikes targeted ISIS terrorists who were trying to flee Raqqa in northern Syria towards Palmyra in the central part of Syria, a Russian Defense Ministry source says.

The source added that the strikes destroyed 39 pick-up trucks carrying weapons and some 120 terrorists.

The source went on by saying that Russian drones have been deployed around the clock to track the possible routes that the terrorists could use to escape the city. Russian combat aircraft and special forces units were engaged to prevent the militants from fleeing Raqqa.

The leaders of G7 countries called on Russia and Iran to exert their influence on Damascus in order to ensure implementation of the Syrian ceasefire.

“Those with influence over the Syrian regime, in particular Russia and Iran, must do their utmost to use that influence to stop this tragedy, beginning with the enforcement of a real ceasefire, stopping the use of chemical weapons, ensuring safe, immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need, and releasing any arbitrarily detained persons, as well as allowing free access to its prisons. To this end, we hope that the Astana agreement can contribute effectively to de-escalating violence,” according to the joint communique of G7 meeting in Italy’s Taormina.