Russia and the US have proposed and supported the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria in order to continue the Syrian peace process and to ensure a permanent ceasefire in the war-torn country.
The idea was proposed during a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, after which the US dispatched a top diplomat to observe the Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, yesterday.
During the "very constructive" phone conversation, Trump and Putin had an in-depth discussion regarding the situation in Syria and sought to revive Trump's long-held idea about establishing safe zones in Syria.
The four safe zones, or de-escalation zones, that have been proposed would come about by taking four areas in the country held by opposition forces and separating them from territory held by Syrian regime forces. Established around the areas of Homs, Idlib and Damascus, the de-escalation zones will enable civilians to move freely, as well as ensuring the continuation of the Syrian peace process.
Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan has also expressed his support for the establishment of safe zones. Speaking at a news conference alongside Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi yesterday, Putin said: "We both proceed on the basis that the creation of safe zones should lead to further pacification and cessation of hostilities."
Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, claimed that the zones "will help significantly reduce the level of armed confrontation between the Syrian armed opposition and government forces."
The plan for the creation of the zones was meant to be discussed at the peace talks in Astana, but the representatives of the opposition protested by suspending their participation due to the continuous airstrikes on civilians and their objection to several parts of the current proposal.