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Russian FM: De-escalation Zones are Not Precursor to Dividing 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)

Moscow – The establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria is not a precursor to the partition of the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday, adding that these areas will lead to a full ceasefire throughout Syria.

He denied all claims that initiators of de-escalation zones will bring about Syria’s division noting that these “provocative statements” are similar to those used in relation to the situation in Aleppo.

Speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his concerns over dividing Syria.

Lavrov pointed out that Putin has repeatedly stressed that the de-escalation zones are not aimed at creating preconditions for Syria’s breakup.

“Seeing as it is extremely difficult to impose a ceasefire in the entire country in one session, a decision was made to begin with these zones,” he told a press conference.

The work on a final agreement related to details of monitoring the ceasefire and of implementing crossing points to and from the safe zones was underway, he stressed.

“These zones have been agreed on and now efforts are underway to hammer out specific details linked to ensuring the monitoring of ceasefire commitments and on setting up checkpoints for civilians and humanitarian assistance, he said.

In an article published on Monday, Asharq Al-Awsat said that the Astana statement included the formation of a committee of members of the guarantor countries to discuss all details concerning the de-escalation zones. It should have been completed by June 4.

Based on Lavrov’s statement, it seems the committee has not accomplished that yet, and many sources indicated that the experts are facing setbacks, especially concerning the choice of countries that will send troops to monitor the operations.

Russia announced that Astana 5 will be held on June 12 and 13.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told reporters on Monday that the agenda of the meetings is still unclear, adding that the participants will most likely focus on discussing the details and implementation of the memo of de-escalation zones.

“Now the countries-guarantors – the Russian Federation, the Turkish Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran – are holding active and intense consultations between each other to finally set the dates of the next round of the Astana process meeting on the Syrian settlement,” Abdrakhmanov said.