Russia has deployed military police to monitor two safe zones being established in Syria, it was announced on Monday, with officials touting it as a new era of US cooperation.
Senior commander Sergei Rudskoi said Russian forces had set up checkpoints and observation posts around a zone in the south-west and in another covering Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
The two areas are part of a broader Moscow-backed plan to create four “de-escalation zones” in rebel-held parts of Syria.
The defence ministry’s announcement marks the first deployment of foreign troops to bolster the safe zones as Moscow seeks to pacify Syria after its military intervention swung the six-year conflict in favour of President Bashar Al Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday praised the creation of the safe zones, saying it showed Russia can work with the United States.
Russia’s top diplomat said the fact that President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed on creating de-escalation zones in southern Syria at their first meeting at the G20 in Hamburg was “a concrete example that we can work together.”
Earlier this month Russia, the US and Jordan struck a deal to fix the boundaries of this zone.
Lavrov contrasted the negotiations with Barack Obama’s administration, which he said “turned out to be incapable of separating terrorists from the normal opposition” in Syria.
“Only now through the concept of safe zones are we getting results in this area,” Lavrov said.
Rudskoi said Russian personnel on July 21 and 22 established two checkpoints and 10 observation posts along the boundaries dividing rebel forces and government troops in the southern zone.
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