Trying to shift the Assad regime’s position, Russia said on Friday that the US may be involved in the securing of four “de-escalation zones” inside Syria.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured), who met Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday, said yesterday, “We will welcome any contribution by the United States to the implementation of this concept.”
He said Moscow will welcome any US contribution to the zone, announced last Week by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, although he added that this should be “agreed with all parties concerned” and “should be acceptable” for Damascus.
The Assad regime’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier this week that the regime will not agree to any international involvement, including that of the UN, in monitoring. Instead, Russia would be establishing the military presence.
Lavrov said a meeting of experts from Russia, Turkey, and Iran will be held within the next two weeks on specific parameters of these zones’ operation, including buffer zones around them, observation posts, and checkpoints.”
The Assad regime was slow to endorse the zones, covering much of northwest Syria in Idlib Province and parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia Provinces; northern Homs Province; suburbs near Damascus; and areas in southern Syria.
President Assad said in a Thursday interview that he welcomed the initiative “in principle” but that he anticipated that “terrorist groups” and their Western supporters will violate the agreement.
Iran has also been reticent about the zones, despite signing the proposal. Tehran has been more forthright than Moscow in backing Assad’s long-term future and has been hesitant about arrangements leaving the opposition in control of parts of Syria.