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Assad says de-escalation zones chance for rebels to 'reconcile'

13 May 2017

The US and Iran should show "compromise and flexibility" in helping secure the so-called deescalation zones proposed by Russian Federation to shore up a Syrian ceasefire, President Vladimir Putin's Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, told reporters in Sochi on Thursday, Bloomberg reported.

He said the new round "will be a rather business-like, rather short comparing to other meetings" and "with more intimate meetings in smaller rooms, in which we can look each other in the eyes". Bogdanov said. "That's not going to happen".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington that he hoped the U.S. would "make an active contribution" to securing the safe zones.

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Though Washington supports the "security zones" agreement signed in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, the Trump administration has questioned the involvement of Iran saying that Teheran does not want to favour peace in Syria and in the region.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Russian Federation to "work together" with the end the Syrian conflict and underscored the need for Moscow to rein in the Bashar al-Assad regime there, and Iran and their "proxies".

Damascus has said rebels should help drive jihadist groups out of the de-escalation zones, and sees so-called reconciliation agreements, which have involved the evacuation of rebels from besieged areas, as an alternative to peace talks. "We will continue to work".

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According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced almost half of the country's pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

The safe zones are established in several Syrian provinces, including in Idlib, Aleppo and Homs.

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Assad says de-escalation zones chance for rebels to 'reconcile'