Moscow is making rapid progress in its drive to set up four de-escalation zones across Syria, agreed in May, the defense ministry announced. Russia says the area under government control has quadrupled since the start of Moscow’s operations in the region.
On Monday, Russian military police set up two checkpoints and four observation posts around the key rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta, General Sergey Rudskoy, spokesman for the Russian General Staff, revealed during a scheduled press briefing in Moscow.
Moscow said that on July 21 and 22, two checkpoints and 10 observations posts were established around another de-escalation zone near the country’s southwestern border with Israel and Jordan. The zone was demarcated earlier this month, and signed off by Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump.
“The measure will help maintain the ceasefire, allow unfettered access for humanitarian aid, and enable refugees and displaced persons to return,” Rudskoy said. “Thanks to measures taken by Russia, we have managed to halt fighting two crucial areas of Syria.”
Rudskoy added that “consultations are ongoing” over the exact borders of the northern zone in Idlib, close to Aleppo, which is the biggest of the proposed zones, housing more than one million people.
The proposal for the four de-escalation zones was signed by Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, and Turkey, which has supported the rebels, two months ago in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
All four zones are areas held by moderate rebels, which have been under pressure from the government advance. As a result of the ceasefire, they are to be monitored by the Astana signatories.