US and Russia talk as clashes erupt despite de-escalation plan in Syria

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right) are seen after a joint news conference following their talks on April 12, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Kommersant via Getty Images)

Despite the agreement on Russia’s proposal for de-escalation zones in Syria scheduled to come into force on Friday midnight, Syrian government forces and rebels clashed in the northwestern province of Hama, according to Reuters.

The Syrian government stated its support for the de-escalation plan, but also that it would continue to fight what it termed terrorist groups.

A number of rebel groups rejected the plan, signed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, calling it a threat to the country’s territorial integrity, and said it would also not recognise Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire plan.

Russian forecasts on increased diplomatic traffic between US and Russia around the de-escalation in Syria were confirmed as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed cooperation on de-escalation in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on phone on Friday.

“The Secretary looks forward to further meetings with the Foreign Minister to discuss the respective roles of the United States and Russia in de-escalating the conflict and supporting the talks in Geneva to move the political solution forward,” the US Department of State said in a following press release.