Syrian government supports de-escalation zones - foreign ministry

Adjust Comment Print

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reach out to shake hands Peace talks sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey are taking place in Kazakhstan this week.

"We both proceed on the basis that - and this is our common position - the creation of safe zones should lead to further pacification and cessation of hostilities", said Putin.

Regarding the issue, President Erdoğan said that he hopes the creation of de-escalation zones in five Syrian regions, including Idlib, will solve 50 percent of the conflict in Syria.

Later Wednesday, the UN Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called on the rebels to return to the talks in Astana "because what is important is also to look at the possibility of an outcome on a de-escalation".

The two leaders spoke by phone for the first time since USA relations with Russian were strained by the US attack on a Syrian airfield.

The White House described the conversation between Trump and Putin as "very good", saying it "included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons".

Some diplomats see the alliance between Erdogan and Putin as offering at least a chance of steering the warring sides in Syria towards talks after six years of fighting that has killed hundreds and thousands of people and displaced millions.

More news: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26' to crown first UFC women's flyweight champion
More news: Comey hearing: FBI chief defends 'right choice' on handling Clinton email probe
More news: 'Really bad' or 'catastrophic': Comey defends Clinton choice

Yesterday's bomb attack was directed at the offices of the "Syrian interim government", which represents the opposition in rebel-held areas. The town has been the scene of several attacks, some claimed by the Islamic State group.

A video of the aftermath of Wednesday's explosion posted online by the Azaz Media Center shows charred cars and firefighters struggling to put out a blaze.

The ban on visa-free travel of Turks will also continue for the moment, due in particular to "the necessity to strengthen cooperation between our special services in condition of an increase of the terrorist threat", Putin added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor meanwhile said a auto bomb on Wednesday killed at least five people in the rebel-held town of Azaz near the Turkish border.

"We stand by our Russian friends in the fight against terror", Erdogan said at a joint press conference, standing alongside Putin.

Moscow retaliated against Ankara by imposing economic sanctions following the downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in 2015.