U.S. and Russia agree on Syria ceasefire

United States and Russia reach agreement on a ceasefire in southwest Syria.

Elad Benari, Canada, | updated: 21:11

Syrian forces celebrate their victory in eastern Aleppo
Syrian forces celebrate their victory in eastern Aleppo
Reuters

The United States, Russia and Jordan have reached a ceasefire and "de-escalation agreement" in southwestern Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The ceasefire will go into effect on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Jordan's Petra news agency said.

Tillerson announced the deal after a meeting in Hamburg between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, their first since Trump took office.

The Secretary of State said the area covered by the ceasefire affects Jordan’s security and is a “very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield.”

“It is (a) well defined agreement on who will secure this area,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.

The announcement came shortly after three U.S. officials indicated that the United States and Russia had reached an agreement.

The deal marks a new level of involvement for the U.S. in trying to resolve Syria's civil war.

It is separate from "de-escalation zones" that were to be created under a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year, reported AP. The U.S. was not a part of that deal. Follow-up talks this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, to finalize a ceasefire in those zones failed to reach agreement.

Previous ceasefires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long, and it remains unclear whether this deal will be any better.

The new agreement will reportedly be open-ended, one U.S. official said, describing it as part of broader U.S. discussions with Russia on trying to lower violence in the war-torn country. Officials said the U.S. and Russia were still working out the details as Trump and Putin concluded their more than two-hour meeting on Friday.

Reports of the ceasefire came after the Times of London reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held an urgent phone call with Putin on Thursday, in which the two discussed creating an extended buffer zone in Syria.

The new buffer zone would extend to 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of the Golan Heights, and include the Syrian towns of Daraa and As-Suwaida. Neither Iran nor Hezbollah would be allowed into the buffer zone but it would not be controlled by Russia, the report said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the call was "at the Israeli side's initiative" and that "Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)




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