Friday, May 5, 2017

Syria’s De- Escalation Zones Not to be Confused with “Safe Zones”

The 5 eyes media insisted on labeling the de-escalation zones as safe zones, when it was apparent they didn’t fit that general description. Neither are these “no fly zones” in the sense that SAA or Russian military flying is explicitly prevented from flying in them.

Putin made a clear statement in regard to no over flying of  the de-escalation zones
"If there is a de-escalation zone, then planes will not fly there on condition that no military activity emanates from these zones," said the Russian leader”

image accompanying National article

A "no fly zone" generally allows  certain protected parties to make ground attacks, as desired, knowing that full protection is granted under the "no fly" enforcement. Covered in this post:  Safe Zones an Inducement to Increase Human Misery

At best this de-confliction deal seems to be an attempt to freeze the conflict in Syria.
Which does not suggest there will be no hostilities. "Just Security"
"Many news outlets are reporting that Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to create so-called “safe zones” in Syria as part of the ceasefire talks taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan. However, the details of the agreement they signed Thursday reveal a different picture.
The memorandum lays the foundation to create de-escalation areas in Idlib and parts of neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, in northern parts of Homs, in eastern Ghouta (Rif Dimashq governorate), and in Deraa and Al-Quneitra (see here for a map). Within these areas, hostilities will cease between the government of Syria and armed opposition groups that have joined the ceasefire. Along the borders of these areas, “security zones” composed of observation posts and checkpoints will be set up to prevent military confrontations between these parties, to ensure the movement of unarmed civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to facilitate economic activities. The armed forces of Russia, Turkey, and Iran are meant to ensure the functioning and administration of these security zones (it is unclear if this entails placing their own troops on the ground). Maps of de-escalation areas and security zones are expected to be completed by June 4"
The Memorandum as shown below

"While the fighting in de-escalation areas shall cease between Syrian forces and the groups that are party to the ceasefire regime, the memorandum foresees that there may be armed opposition groups that are not party to the ceasefire. In addition, the memorandum states that Russia, Turkey and Iran will take all necessary measures to continue the fight against ISIL, Nusra Front and other entities associated with ISIL or al-Qaeda, both within and outside the de-escalation areas.

These details make it apparent that the de-escalation areas are not designed to be “safe zones.” As described in an earlier post, international humanitarian law (IHL) foresees the establishment, by agreement between the parties to the conflict, of zones to shelter persons from the effects of hostilities. Hospital and safety zones can be set up to protect the wounded and sick, as well as certain categories of civilians, from the effects of armed conflict. These are typically set up far from the area of fighting, and must not be defended by military means. More temporary “neutralized zones” are typically not removed from the area of combat and are meant to provide shelter for the wounded and sick and civilians who are in the vicinity of military operations but take no part in hostilities and perform no work of a military character while residing in these zones. “Demilitarized zones” are established to protect entire civilian populations residing in these zones against attack. No party to the conflict can occupy or use these areas for military purposes. The establishment of such zones under IHL is premised on all the parties to the conflict agreeing to set them up and respect their civilian character. (See here and here for zones established with the parties’ agreement.)"

This agreement had dissenters, of course. Which opens the door to alternatives

"In the absence of agreement by all parties to establish a safe zone, an alternative can be for the UN Security Council to declare one, as it has done through resolutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and Rwanda in 1994. Nevertheless, such arrangements will typically raise important concerns: Unless all parties agree to the establishment of a demilitarized safe area, a strong military presence will be required to ensure its protection against attack. In turn, this military presence can draw attacks from enemy parties, thereby exposing the civilian population to military operations and undermining the very purpose of the area.

The fact that the proposed de-escalation areas under Thursday’s memorandum do not enjoy the agreement of all parties to the fighting in Syria, require armed forces to prevent military confrontations along their borders, and can expect to experience fighting against ISIL and other groups, indicates that they should not be considered safe zones and should not give civilians a misguided sense of enhanced safety.

This being said, the memorandum does contain some humanitarian elements that are important to highlight. It foresees the provision of rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, conditions for the delivery of medical aid and for meeting civilians’ basic needs, measures to restore basic facilities such as the supply of water and electricity, and conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons"
Feel free to read the rest of the article at the highlighted "Just Security" link above!

Concluding paragraph as follows:

"The parties to the memorandum are determined to “decrease the level of military tensions and to provide for the security of civilians.” They – and all parties to the conflict in Syria – must pursue this goal in full compliance with their IHL obligations, both within and outside these new de-escalation areas"

From earlier today:

P5 + 1: Joint Commision Meets to Review Deal


  1. Thanks for posting this important clarification between "Save zones" and "No fly zones", Penny. The reason we have had all these negotiated peace in Syria and prior in Ukraine with the "Minsk Agreement" is because Putin has a Masters of Law in International Agreements. This is his forte.

    What will happen when he is gone off the scene...and we're left with the likes of "Beautiful chocolate cake" Trump and all the spineless sock puppet leaders of the 5 Eyes and Europe?

  2. With Turkey's involvement this has to be a positive step. The mainstream view is that Erdoghan will at some point betray Iran, Syria and Russia but I'm not seeing that. The Turks know that the Zionists are trying for regime changes and partition in Turkey.

    It was a close run thing but methinks the Turks saw through the lies. This is not to excuse Turkey's other nefarious activities in the Syrian War but I'll just put that down to temporary mesmerization by the lies of Obama. Both Gaddafi and Assad were mesmerized by Tony Blair, so no-one is immune.

    And I'm sure all sides in Syria have committed atrocities to some extent, albeit not on the huge and quite deliberate scale of the Zionist proxies. For example, STARTING the war in the first is kinda hard to beat in terms of War Crimes :D

  3. This agreement was really good, and urgently needed.
    It will free up SAA troops and give them an opportunity to liberate Deir Ezzor and save their country.
    Another good thing is that it includes an NFZ for coalition planes. US say they won't abide by it, and the YPG & Al-Qaida have rejected it all.