UN Secretary-General welcomes Syria de-escalation deal

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres endorsed the memorandum on four security zones in Syria signed by Russia, Turkey and Iran at the Astana peace talks on Thursday.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Guterres, said in a UN-statement that the agreement between the guarantor countries and their commitment to de-escalate violence, provides “rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access, and to creating conditions for the delivery of medical aid and meeting civilians’ basic needs” was welcomed by the Secretary-General who considered it to be “crucial to see this agreement actually improve the lives of Syrians.”

Several opposition delegates, including representatives of Saudi Arabia and Turkey backed Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, rejected the memorandum as well as Iran’s role as guarantor state.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir cautiously welcomed the agreement but said more details were needed.

Commentators wondered whether the memorandum of the two-day long peace talks implied the recalling of Turkish and Saudi support to the opposition, consisting of some 15 armed groups, that walked out in protest, briefly interrupting the signing of the safe zones memorandum.

The next round of Astana talks is scheduled for July.