Relative Calm Reported In Syria Safe Zones After Deal Comes Into Force

Back when Turkey and the United States were both super keen on the idea of safe zones, a big selling point was the imposition of no-fly zones over the areas, to keep the civilians within getting bombed.

Weaponry and air strikes are to be banned within the zones - while no-fly zones will be introduced in the airspace overhead.

Doyle said there are huge question marks over the commitment of various actors to reducing violence and over how the plan will be enforced.

De-escalation zones have also been established in Idlib province and parts of Latakia, Homs, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, and the south of the country on the border with Jordan.

"We noticed there are fewer airplanes, nearly none".

Russian Federation said it could be expanded to create more zones.

"Psychologically, residents are relieved", he said. It added that government forces shelled rebel-held neighborhoods of the capital Damascus.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Syrian fighter jets on Saturday bombed rebel positions in Hama.

The Observatory's spokesman Rami Abdel Rahman said violence had however "sharply reduced" as Saturday progressed.

Several ceasefires have been agreed since Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011, but they have failed to permanently stem the fighting.

Senate panel asks Comey to testify next week, no longer appearing Thursday
He said there was no need for a special prosecutor . "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date", he said. But White House officials privately expressed surprise at the level of backlash, particularly from leading Republicans.

The accord on the zones was reached at Thursday's talks in Kazakhstan between Russian Federation and Iran which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The four zones will remain in place for six months, but their borders have to be finalised by Russia, Iran and Turkey by 4 June.

Access to the areas will be controlled via security zones complete with checkpoints and observation posts.

The guarantor states committed to take all the necessary measures to continue fighting Islamic State, Nusra and other groups both within and beyond the de-escalation zones.

In Idlib province in particular, Fateh al Sham is a leading and powerful component of the opposition forces controlling the region, and a key ally for other rebel groups against the regime.

The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories, but Syrian state news agency SANA reported that DamascU.S. supports the Russian plan. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian army.

"We will send this list to the Russians via the Turks", the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. military said in a statement that Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke Saturday with General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Federation Chief of General Staff about the recent Astana agreement and affirmed their commitment to de-conflicting operations in Syria.

A senior State Department official was at the talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, that led to the deal, which went into effect yesterday.

The six-year old Syrian civil war has resulted in the death of at least 400, 000 people, with half of the population said to have fled the country since.

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