De-escalation Zones in Syria

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The six and a half years Syrian civil war seems far from over. The number of attacks being carried out by pro-government forces is on the rise. In the past one month, three attacks have been carried out including some at marketplaces that have resulted in the death of over 50 people. On the other hand, most of these attacks are being carried out in the de-escalations zones that have been established through negotiations by various stakeholders. For instance, the latest agreement was reached by Turkey alongside Russia and Iran. While Turkey is known to support some of the rebels in the region, Iran and Russia are good allies of the Syrian government. These so-called de-escalation zones were established to reduce conflicts in the region. This was also geared towards helping the Syrian people settle peacefully in the region. The de-escalation zones consist of some areas that are under insurgent groups. However, it’s worth mentioning that Islamic State is not one of the insurgents. This agreement requires these groups to refrain from attacking any other group in the region. Nonetheless, they are allowed to attack hardliners who are not part of the agreement. This pact also required the lifting of longstanding sieges in the area. At the end of the day, this would be very crucial in allowing the free flow of goods.

For starters, the accord was called the Astana accord. It’s named after the city where parties involved gathered. However, it has been revealed that the Syrian government has continued with attacks despite the agreement. There has been skepticism among the groups that signed the agreement especially now that the international community has remained calm about the situation. However, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin spoke about the importance of the de-escalation in Aleppo province. He was speaking in Da Nang, Vietnam. This is something that President Trump also emphasized on during the same meeting. Days later, a marketplace in northern Aleppo was subjected to an airstrike despite being in a de-escalation zone. A witness who identified himself as Ali Obeid confirmed that the whole marketplace had been destroyed. This is an event that was even broadcasted on social media. A day before, Amnesty International had issued a statement where it expressed its dissatisfaction with violations of the de-escalation agreement. Raya Rageh is the senior advisor of Amnesty International in Syria. He said that Syrians are finding it hard to find a safe place in their own country.

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