US questions Iran’s role in setting up de-escalation zones in Syria

The United States supports all efforts towards reducing tensions in Syria, but the role of Iran in the setting up of de-escalation zones invites many questions, US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft said at a round-table conference with representatives of the Russian media.

“We were observers in Astana. The discussion on that continues, we have not reached any kind of conclusion,” the ambassador said.

“We will support efforts to stop killing, but we have some larger issues. The main one: Iran being a guarantor ,” he added.
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On May 3-4, Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana hosted the fourth international high-level meeting on Syria.

The countries-guarantors of ceasefire – Russia, Iran and Turkey – signed a memorandum on creating de-escalation zones in the Arab country in the presence of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, observers from the US and Jordan, a delegation of the official Damascus and members of the armed opposition.

Under a memorandum signed at the talks in Astana, the four zones are Idlib province and some parts of neighboring provinces (Aleppo, Latakia and Hama), an area north of Homs, Damascus’s suburb Eastern Ghouta, and a number of provinces in southern Syria – Daraa and Al-Quneitra.

In those areas, combat operations, including flights by military aircraft, are outlawed as of May 6. The memorandum was concluded for six months with chances of automatic prolongation for another six months.

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