Syria’s armed opposition groups are seeking dialogue with Russia on establishing a new safe zone in the north of the war-plagued country.
Armed groups in northern Syria are trying to get in touch with Russia to organize a meeting to outline the borders of the fourth Syria de-escalation zone, a commander of the Free Syrian Army in southern Aleppo province told Sputnik.
“We are trying to get in touch with the Russian side via a mediator to reach an agreement on the de-escalation zone in Idlib and the southern suburb of Aleppo. Groups gave us authorization to speak on their behalf,” the commander said.
The news comes amid a report the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel, Russia and the US had held several rounds of secret talks to discuss the ceasefire in southern Syria and the setup of de-escalation zones prior to the establishment of the zones.
Since then the setup of the three safe zones, including the one north of the city of Homs, in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda provinces and in Eastern Ghouta have been agreed upon.
There are plans to set up de-escalation zones in four areas: Idlib, north of Homs, in Eastern Ghouta immediately east of Damascus, and in the country’s south, including parts of Daraa and Quneitra provinces.
The zones will be established for six months with the option of extending them automatically for another six months. The use of arms in these areas will be prohibited for all sides.
The zones are aimed at soothing the consequences of the brutal civil war in Syria, during which the government forces have been fighting against both Syrian opposition groups who strive to overthrow President Bashar Assad, and numerous extremist and terrorist groups such as Daesh.