Syria ceasefire zone a US 'priority,' Trump security aide says


"At noon local time tomorrow, a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria will begin to take effect," HR McMaster says in statement released on Saturday

A Syrian air force plane. HR McMaster, national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, said safe zones are a priority (AFP)
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Monday 10 July 2017 10:09 UTC

A ceasefire set to take effect in southwest Syria on Sunday is a US priority and an important step toward eventual peace throughout the war-torn country, President Donald Trump's national security adviser said.

"At noon local time tomorrow, a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria will begin to take effect," HR McMaster said in a statement released on Saturday.

"Such zones are a priority for the United States, and we're encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement," he said.

"The United States remains committed to defeating ISIS (the Islamic State group), helping to end the conflict in Syria, reducing suffering, and enabling people to return to their homes. This agreement is an important step toward these common goals," he said.

McMaster, who released his statement shortly after the US president and other world leaders wrapped up the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, said Trump "discussed the agreement with many world leaders at the G20 Summit," including Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The decision to impose a ceasefire zone, announced Friday at the summit by Moscow's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, was reached with the US, Russia and Jordan.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been engaged in talks this year with Turkey and Iran over four so-called de-escalation zones in the war-torn country. 

Lavrov said the ceasefire would be supervised by Russian military police "in coordination with the Jordanians and Americans".

Syria's conflict evolved from a bloody crackdown on protests in 2011 to a devastating war that has drawn in world powers, including Russia and the US-led international coalition.

More than 320,000 people are estimated to have been killed and millions have been displaced.