Russia Says Progress Made On De-Escalation Zone in Southwestern Syria

Russia Says Progress Made On De-Escalation Zone in Southwestern Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the creation of a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria with his Jordanian counterpart, the envoy said on Monday (September 11).

Agreement could be reached between Russia, Jordan and the U.S., he added, saying his country would continue further discussions on the partial ceasefire deal reached in July.

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire and "de-escalation agreement" for southwestern Syria, as the U.S. government under President Donald Trump made its first attempt at peacemaking in the country's six-year-old civil war.

Jordanian officials are hopeful the crossing with Syria on its northern border can be open by the end of the year once a U.S.-Russian de-escalation zone in southwest Syria that includes the area is cemented.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said after meeting with Lavrov that the Jordan's borders have to be secured and cleared from Islamic State (ISIS) militants and foreign troops.

Previous similar ceasefires have failed to hold for long and it was not clear how much the actual combatants -- Assad's government and the main Syrian rebel forces in the southwest -- are committed to this latest effort.

The next round of talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran on settling the Syrian civil conflict is due to take in Astana, Kazakhstan on Sept. 14-15.

Kazakhstan hosts the talks which have in the past few months focused on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria.

The talks, which began in January, have so far produced no breakthrough. Some Western diplomats have described them as Russia's attempt to "hijack" U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva involving the government and opposition.