Russia, Turkey agree to support safe-zones in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a Moscow-backed plan to set up so-called de-escalation zones inside Syria would "50 percent" solve the six-year conflict, in comments published Thursday.

The presidents of Russian Federation and Turkey said on Wednesday they support the creation of safe-zones in war-torn Syria as a delegation of Syrian rebels walked out of cease-fire talks with the Damascus government underway in Kazakhstan, citing repeated violations of a similar truce agreed on in December.

Late Wednesday, Syria's Foreign Ministry said Damascus is "fully backing" the Russian initiative on the four cease-fire areas, according to the state-run SANA news agency.

Turkey and Russian Federation have been on sharply opposing sides in the Syria conflict, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad but Ankara pushing for his ouster.

The Syrian armed opposition will return to the talks on settling the Syrian conflict today, which are being held in the Kazakh capital Astana, a source close to the negotiations said.

"There is a proposal to create de-escalation zones in Idlib and five other Syrian regions".

The presidents of Russian Federation and Turkey are pushing for the creation of safe-zones in war-torn Syria as talks were expected to resume on Thursday in Kazakhstan between the government and the opposition.

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In Sochi, Putin said Russian and Syrian government jets would halt flights over the specified zones if all sides respected the cease-fire.

The zones, according to the proposal, would be monitored by global observers and allow for the voluntary return of refugees.

"The Syrian Arab Republic supports the Russian initiative on de-escalation zones and confirms its commitment to the cessation of hostilities regime signed December 30, 2016, which includes not bombing these regions", said state news agency SANA, reporting a foreign ministry statement, according to Reuters.

The Syrian government delegation is led by Bashar Jaafari, while on Wednesday, representatives of the armed opposition left the negotiating table to protest against government airstrikes.

Yet tensions remain, and Erdogan said he had personally shown Putin at the talks a photograph purportedly showing Russian forces in Syria with Kurdish militia that Ankara deems to be a terror group.

This is the fourth round of talks in Astana since January.

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