Russia, Iran and Turkey have signed an agreement to set up four safe zones in Syria that the United Nations described as a promising step to wind down the brutal six-year war.
The United States however gave an extremely cautious welcome, citing Iran’s role as a guarantor even as it expressed hope that the deal could set the stage for a settlement.
Several members of the rebel delegation left the room shouting in protest as the signing ceremony got underway in the Kazakh capital Astana.
The plan for the “De-Escalation Zones” was discussed by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation.
The agreement provides for a ceasefire, a ban on all flights, rapid deliveries of humanitarian aid to the designated areas and the return of refugees.
Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the war, and turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, hope to build on a ceasefire deal they reached in December.
The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories to the deal.
A working group will be set up within two weeks to resolve technical issues and the three countries agreed to set up the four areas by June 4.