Astana peace talks: Russia, Turkey, Iran sign pact on safe zones in Syria

Participants at the fourth round of Syria peace talks in Astana talks Photograph:( AFP )

Agencies Astana, Kazakhstan May 04, 2017, 02.35 PM (IST)

Syrian regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel-backer Turkey on Thursday signed a memorandum on a Moscow-backed plan to create safe zones in Syria, AFP news agency reported. 

An AFP reporter at peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana saw the heads of the delegations - who represent the three countries sponsoring the negotiations - sign the document. 

The move is being seen as a breakthrough although the opposition hasn't backed the initiative. 

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin while meeting  Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan had proposed that safe zones in Syria should become no-fly areas if fighting on the ground stops entirely.

"If there is a de-escalation zone, then planes will not fly there on condition that no military activity emanates from these zones," Putin had said at a press conference with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Russia was hoping to negotiate a memorandum with Turkey and Iran to establish four de-escalation zones in Syria, Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev had said earlier.

"These are the zones where most intensive fighting is taking place between the government forces, Jabhat al Nusra and a moderate opposition," Lavrentyev told reporters this morning. 

Turkey's president had said on Wednesday (May 3) that he believed his Russian counterpart would play a major role in establishing a ceasefire in Syria.

(WION with Agency inputs)