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Why Iran wants 'de-escalation' zones in Syria

While the establishment of "safe zones" has never been part of Russia's or Iran’s plans, their agreement to create "de-escalation zones" at this juncture serves the interests of both countries.
CORRECTION - Russian mediator Alexander Lavrentiev, Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attend the signing of a memorandum on creating safe zones in Syria during the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana on May 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Stanislav FILIPPOV / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Stanislav FILIPPOV has been modified in AFP systems in the following m

The latest round of Syria peace talks in Astana concluded May 4 with Russia, Iran and Turkey — the three guarantors of the cease-fire — agreeing on a plan to establish “de-escalation zones” in Syria. The initiative, which was first put forward by Moscow with the declared aim of securing the fragile truce and making it easier to concentrate on the political process, sparked different reactions by the various involved parties.

Although UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura commended the agreement as “an important, promising, positive step in the right direction,” the United States presented a more cautious approach, saying that more details are needed to judge the exact nature of the plan. On the other hand, while the Syrian government declared its full support for the Russian initiative, the main coalition representing the Syrian opposition in Astana refused to accept it, expressing reservations about its noninclusive territorial scope and also the role of Iran as one of the peacekeepers.

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