The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria, which was adopted on May 4th at a meeting in Astana. According to the document, armed conflict must be stopped in the zones located on the line of contact between the forces of Bashar Al-Assad and the opposition troops.
The memorandum consists of six items. The first point defines the de-escalation zones. They will be located in the province of Idlib and in some parts of the neighboring provinces (Latakia, Aleppo, and Hama), some areas in the north of the Homs province, the suburbs of Damascus – East Ghouta, and certain areas in southern Syria – in the provinces of Dera’a and Quneitra. The creation of these zones is a temporary measure, the duration of which will be six months with the automatic extension on the basis of consensus by the parties that acted as guarantors of the ceasefire (Russia, Turkey, and Iran).
Within the "safe zones", any hostilities between conflicting parties, including air strikes, are prohibited, and safe and unhindered humanitarian access is provided. In the de-escalation zones, conditions will be created for rendering medical assistance to the population. Measures are also being taken to restore infrastructure facilities and the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Along the boundaries of the de-escalation zones, "security belts" will be created, including checkpoints and observation posts.
The guarantor countries of the ceasefire promise to take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the ceasefire by the opposing parties, to continue to fight the terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other associated groups, as well as to continue efforts to join the oppositional groups to the armistice.
A joint working group will be established within two weeks after the signing of the document in order to determine the boundaries of de-escalation zones and security belts and to resolve other operational issues related to the implementation of the memorandum.
The guarantor countries that signed the memorandum intend to create maps of the de-escalation zones and security belts before June 4, 2017, and also take steps to "dissociate armed opposition formations from the terrorist groups."
According to the document, the Memorandum comes into effect the day after signing.