US, Russia agree on ceasefire in southwest Syria » Manila Bulletin News

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By Agence France-Presse

Russia and the United States have agreed to a ceasefire in southwest Syria starting from midday on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Friday.

US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.
(AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Today in Amman Russian, American and Jordanian experts… agreed on a memorandum of understanding to create a de-escalation zone” in the regions of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida, Lavrov said.

“There will be a ceasefire in this zone from midday Damascus time on July 9.”

Lavrov was speaking at a G20 summit in Hamburg where he sat in on talks between US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin — their first face-to-face meeting.

The agreement includes areas that have seen Israel retaliate for stray fire into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from recent clashes between Syrian regime forces and rebel fighters.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been engaged in talks this year with Turkey and Iran over four so-called de-escalation zones in the war-torn country.

Negotiations in Astana this week failed to reach an agreement on the policing and precise borders of the zones, however.

Lavrov said the ceasefire set to begin Sunday would be supervised by Russian military police “in coordination with the Jordanians and Americans”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed the agreement.

Tillerson said it showed the United States and Russia were able to work together in Syria and that they would continue to do so.

“We had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas and the violence, once we defeat ISIS,” he said using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Tillerson said they would also “work together towards a political process that will secure the future of the Syrian people”.

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