Mattis: US reviewing Syria safe zones but has many questions

Russia, Turkey and Iran signed the deal last week in Astana, Kazakhstan. "We do not accept a role for the UNs or worldwide forces to monitor the agreement, he said". He said Russian Federation has already indicated there will be "military police and observation centers" on the ground.

The minister gave no details on who would make up that police force. 'So we will look at the proposal, see if it can work, ' Mattis added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Saturday said there had been a reduction in fighting across Syria since the deal came into force, but warned it was too early to say whether it would last. There are still questions about how the agreement will be enforced.

Syrian regime backers Russian Federation and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey last week inked a deal to set up four "de-escalation zones" in the war-torn country.

Moualem also said the United States seemed to have concluded that it must reach an understanding with Russian Federation for a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], May 9: United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis questioned the plan on Syrian safe zones, citing Washington was going to study Moscow's proposal.

Also unclear at this point was whether the zones would be effective in helping to end the conflict, he said, adding that there were many decision yet to be made, regarding "planning, coordination among a number of nations, and obviously in execution". "Will it affect the fight against ISIS?"

Al-Moallem, using the Arabic acronym for IS, says: "I think that what the Syrian Kurds are doing in fighting Daesh is legitimate in the framework of their keenness on preserving the unity and integrity of Syrian territories".

For his part, al-Moallem said the government hopes the agreement will, as a start, achieve a separation between Syrian armed opposition groups and extremist groups such as the al-Qaida branch in Syria.

Walid al-Muallem said that rebels involved must help clear areas they control of jihadist factions, including the former Nusra Front.

But even if the agreement is enforced, it is unlikely to end the conflict.

Al-Moallem said the Syrian army's military priority now is to liberate areas in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border held by the Islamic State group.

Al-Moallem said the Syrian government's alternative to stalled negotiations has been the implementation of "reconciliation agreements" around the country.

Muallem cautioned that if forces from Jordan, a supporter of rebel groups in southern Syria, entered the country without coordinating with Assad's government, it would be considered an act of aggression.

Speaking about the military situation inside Syria, Moualem said Deir al-Zor, a city and province occupied by Islamic State in the east, was the "fundamental objective" for government forces and was more important to the average Syrian than Idlib, a northwestern province that is an opposition stronghold. However, the evacuation of more than 1,000 people from Damascus' northeastern Barzeh neighborhood is the first in this area. However, the organization reported that only four buses had left the Damascus suburb of Barzeh, which has been under siege for the past month.

Mattis was circumspect when asked if the plan had any hope of ending the brutal civil war that has killed some 400,000 people and displaced almost half of the country's population since 2011.

Some opposition activists have criticized the population movements as "forced displacement".

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